Wilmet Forsyth is a contentedly comfortable, youngish married woman who lives with her very nice husband, Rodney, and her energetic mother-in-law in the suburbs of London. She attends church and shops, but doesn’t really have much else to occupy her time. In essence, she is bored. So, when her best friend’s handsome, suave and mysterious brother, Piers Longridge, enters her life she sees him as a chance to bring some excitement and novelty into her life. Piers is as opposite to Rodney as is possible – he’s unreliable, prickly, can’t hold down a respectable job and admires Wilmet’s beauty and sense of style in a way that Rodney hasn’t for years. She develops an innocent infatuation with him and, though she knows it’s slightly foolish, she spends hours dreaming of ways she can see him again. But Piers isn’t the man she thought he was and she realizes that “there was no reason why my own life should not be a glass of blessings too. Perhaps it always had been without my realizing it.”
Pym’s typical understated humor sustains this charming story and it totally melted my heart. I love Wilmet – she’s smart and honest and good, though she doesn’t believe that about herself. I like her almost as much as I like Mildred Lathbury from Excellent Women. I also love the fascinating mixture of vicars, elderly spinsters, eccentric churchwardens, and other great characters that inhabit her novels. They bring color and vibrancy to all of her books.
These lovely novels are not naive, but they do have an admirable innocence that suits my reading tastes. Out of the four Pym’s I’ve now read I believe that this is my second favorite, after Excellent Women. Have you read Barbara Pym yet? If not, what are you waiting for?