Friday, July 25, 2014

Quartet in Autumn: Mini-Review

Quartet in Autumn is a quiet, subtle novel about the lives of four older office workers. Marcia, Letty, Norman, and Edwin have shared the same office for years, but have never really shared their lives. They've always taken separate lunch hours--and even when they go to the same place, such as the library as mentioned in the opening lines, they aren't really together. They've never socialized in any way after hours; never been to one another's homes. The reader follows each of them in turn, learning more about their personal lives than is ever shared among the four.

When Marcia and Letty retire, all of their lives are changed drastically. Letty has always planned on joining her friend Marjorie to share a cottage in the country, but she finds she must change her plans when Marjorie suddenly announces her engagement to a younger clergyman from the village. Marcia, who had recently undergone a major surgery not long before retirement, becomes even more of a recluse than before. Edwin and Norman start thinking more and more about "the girls" and eventually they all have a very awkward lunch together. It isn't until tragedy strikes that we have a sense that greater, more positive changes may be in store for some of our characters.

Pym is rather spectacular in her ability to make the reader become so invested in four such very ordinary--really, quite boring--people. She uses them to investigate loneliness and how very often it takes tragedy of some sort to really make us see one another and reach out for the companionship we really crave.  ★★★


fredamans said...

If this author can make boring people, readable, that's a master writer in my book! Sounds like Pym is quite excelled at pulling the reader in. Great review!

Yvette said...

Adding this to my list, Bev. I don't remember ever reading Barbara Pym. Though her name is very familiar.

At any rate, thanks for the recommend. This one sounds like something I'd like.