Quartet in Autumn
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Quartet in Autumn is one of the books Pym wrote during the 15 years when no one would publish her, and perhaps the same kind of balance between hopelessness and inner strength helped shape this novel's story about four friends in an office nearing the age of retirement. They are people who have lived unspectacularly, but who have conjured a sense of themselves from the quartet's unity. Things start to change when two of them retire. Pym maps this ordinary strangeness of life with her particular genius for brilliant psychological insight and quiet humor that never strains for effect. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Barbara Pym's unpretentious, subtle, accomplished novels ... are for me the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past 75 years...spectacular Sunday Times Barbara Pym has a sharp eye for the exact nuances of social behaviour The Times The wit and style of a twentieth century Jane Austen Harpers & Queen Very funny and keenly observant of the ridiculous as well as the pathetic in humanity Financial Times A spare masterpiece of loneliness in retirement Telegraph Quartet in Autumn is immeasurably her finest work of fiction Evening Standard An alert miniaturist ... her novels have a distinctive flavour, as instantly recognisable as lapsang tea Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel is moving, and sometimes downright scary. Indeed, Pym shows us that such a fate could easily belong to anyone in today's society. She makes it readily apparent that the resources and aid available to the elderly are insufficient. Few people truly care what happens to those who are no longer of any great use to the modern world. It is a bleak prospect, and this book serves as an important warning. The book is also hopeful, however. Ultimately the main characters do manage to reach out to one another, and this is heartwarming. It shows us the value in cultivating relationships with others.
I read Quartet in Autumn for a women's studies course, and while it is not particularly exciting or enthralling, it is quite thought-provoking. It's an easy, short read (roughly 200 pages), and uses plain, to-the-point language. Pym really pares it down to the issues at hand and throws in no extraneous fluff. I would recommend this work to just about anyone (regardless of age - it's message is equally important to the old and young alike). It raises awareness of a very important, yet seldom looked at aspect of the social world of today.
But this one is about four people, old, and getting older, each one, in their own way. And this one is not just excellent: it is amazing.
The arch gaze which Pym usually trained on comfortable, mundane, church society, is, in Quartet, focused upon eccentricity: the growing manifestation of uniqueness which signifies old age. With a sensitivity which is unusual in the literature of any age, let alone that of this century, Pym follows the meanderings of her protagonists' minds,through their every day activities. Gradually, she derives an astounding narrative about the development of individual perspectives as they are colored by time.
It's a slow novel, a careful one, and one which turns Barbara Pym's penchant for wry insight into a sympathetic tribute to the human psyche.
QUARTET IN AUTUMN is a study of the courage required of ordinary people when old age begins to take away all that gives life meaning--work, family, friends. It is therefore mainly concerned with questions of survival. Its four main characters are isolated and anonymous London office workers on the verge of retirement. Some manage to continue to find ways to make their lives possible, but the book is also unsparing about how bleak the alternatives are.
QUARTER IN AUTUMN is admirably disciplined and honest, but it is disquieting because it admits the possibility of only the merest survival.
QUARTET IN AUTUMN is a study of the courage required of ordinary people when old age begins to take away all that gives life meaning--work, family, friends. It is therefore mainly concerned with questions of survival. Its four main characters are isolated and anonymous London office workers. Some manage to continue to find ways to make their lives possible, but the book is also unsparing about the bleaker alternatives.
The writing in QUARTER IN AUTUMN is disciplined and mature, but it is disquieting because it admits the possibility of only the merest survival.
Most recent customer reviews
An easy read , not much substance but O.K. to get through quickly without much thought.Published 14 months ago by maureen batten
The saddest and bleakest of all Pym's fiction, "A Quartet in Autumn" cast a pall over my day. While her other novels enable me to see the humor and irony in everyday life, I found... Read morePublished on April 12 2009 by Phoebe
...society in the late 1970's in London. The "quartet" is four older middle-class, working people, two women and two men around the age of sixty. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2003
I was the only member of my book club who liked this. I felt it was an interesting book if for no other reason than the illustration that sometimes what DOESN'T happen is as... Read morePublished on April 7 2002 by Alicia Walker
This is my Favorite of all her books, and I like all of her books. While she often writes about fairly hopeless people, I think it is the only book in which she treats absolute... Read morePublished on Dec 10 2000 by adam bohnet
This book is not a masterpiece. The characters are not that well developed. Nor are the images really there. Also, the pace does get a bit sluggish. Read morePublished on April 30 2000 by Sean Ares Hirsch