A Lot to Ask: The Life of Barbara Pym

Hazel Holt, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-24937-5
Well-written and filled with new details about Barbara Pym's private life as well as her published and unpublished writings, this biography by Pym's literary executor is the first complete life of the once-ignored and now widely read British novelist, who died in 1980. Those familiar with A Very Private Eye , the collection of Pym's diaries and letters published as a quasi-autobiography, will find this book a supplement to it. From a vast archive of private papers Holt has gleaned nuggets that add to the overall picture we have had of Pym without significantly changing it. She is a pleasure to know, a woman with great verve in youth who became more involved in literary endeavors as she withdrew from the romantic entanglements that crowded her early years; the passion and fantasies evident in her correspondence make her a figure to be envied for her freedom from stultifying conventions, an ironic counterpoint to the ``excellent women'' of much of her fiction. But this compelling biography does not lessen the need for an objective look at the novelist's life by a biographer unassociated with her estate. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-452-26822-7
Hardcover - 308 pages - 978-0-333-40614-4
Hardcover - 453 pages - 978-0-8161-5223-0
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4472-6542-9
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4472-6541-2
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