Sunday, January 8, 2017

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (Review)



First Published in 1952.


Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym’s richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those “excellent women,” the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

My Review:

This is my first novel by Barbara Pym. I did enjoy reading it. I love British literature. This book is set in 1950s England. The basic plot is set around the concept of excellent women. They are the women who are not married but are smart, supportive, repressed. The main character, Mildred Lathbury, is one of them. She is an only child of a clergyman. Her parents have been deceased and she is all alone except for friends. She is good friends with her vicar, Julian, and his sister Winifred. Winifred is another one of those excellent women. One day she gets new neighbors in her building, Helena and Rocky Napier. They are an unusual couple. Helena is an anthropologist. Rocky is in the military. They are opposites and fight often. Mildred gets drawn into their lives. They also help open her world. I loved the descriptions of people and surroundings in the book. The humor in it is understated. The situations Mildred finds herself in are interesting. I do not want to give away the whole plot but the ending fits the book.

Recommended.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen (Review)


  • Series: Tales From Ivy Hill (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Reprint edition (December 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764218131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764218132


  • First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!
    The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

    Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

    With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?

    My Review:

    The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill was an okay start to a new series by Julie Klassen. It was too long and tried to cover too many things. I think it was to set the background up for the series though. I did not like the two main female characters, Jane and Thora, in the beginning. By the end of the book I was able to tolerate them. Patrick Bell, Thora's other son, also comes back to help with the inn. I didn't trust him from the beginning and there were undertones of his being not completely upfront and having ulterior motives. Although Thora and Jane both have two men in their lives who could be love interests, there was not a lot of romance in the book. There was a little mystery/suspense around the fate of the inn and the death of Jane's husband. The ending of the book left us hanging on several things. Part of it I understand why but I would have loved some more closure. There is a second book in the series coming out in December that will focus on some of the minor characters from this one. Overall I liked being in Ivy Hill and look forward to reading the next book in the series.




    Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit www.julieklassen.com for more information.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.