Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pym and Cycladic Idols

From Cincinnatti comes my photo of a large Cycladic idol, cherished by Pym heroines and written about by Pym herself.
I had a Pym "citing" of sorts watching old "Frasier" shows. Daphne runs to make tea in an upsetting situtation, stating that, she, a good English Girl, makes tea because that is the only thing she can do in a crisis. Remember Miss Clovis and other excellent women are always making tea in a crisis. Hedgegogs: My dear friend MP recently adopted a baby girl hedgehog named Nigel; I now, he gets confused. But, alas, Nigel went home to her birth mother. MP could not stand the smells and clean up associated with such an infant, not something a Pymian character would do! I found a bio of Laura Ashley, whom I write about in my book on Pym, since she seems the embodiment to me of the Pym lifestyle, and of a woman who truly found something to love. The book is Laura Ashley by Martin Wood. It allegeldy contains "first hadn acocunts' of her family, friends, and co workers. It is the story of her rise to fame, along with a discussion of Ashley family private recoreds with illustratons. It is $12.95 from ER Hamilton, Bookseller, at p. 62. Just finished The Bonebed by Patricia Cornwell, an excellent woman in her own right. She never ceases to amaze me with her melding of dinosaurs and fossils [which I also love], and murder/mayhem, which we study in my criminal justice courses, and her knowledge of fine, Italian cooking. I include this in my blog on memoir, because much of PC's writing is autobiographical, as the recent feature about her in Poets and Writers indicates. Also, much of her Scarpetta body of work is done in first person, though she will shift to 3d person POV.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Merry Christmas

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Merry Christmas: Please read below, and note that Erzebet's legal problems began at the end of the Christmas Season as celebrated in her time. Merry Christm...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rumer Godden at MMLA 2012

Children’s Lit; Section C - All I really Needed to Know Rumer Godden’s Adaptation of Iconic Themes in Adult and Children’s Literature Intro: in one of her autobiographies, A House with Four Rooms, Godden mentions four poems by Emily Dickinson, and then writes her own tribute to the poet. (cf The Bell of Amherst by William Luce). In Stanza 2 of “Elegy for Emily,” Godden writes, “The Irish workers, her Friends and servants, Conducted her funeral like a game, Some grave children’s celebration, The toecaps of their black boots, Burnished with buttercups,” And then of Dickinson says, It is she who remains, and weak Alone, are the departed:” In “At the Grave of Emily Dickinson,” Godden writes, “I know you are with me, As always, with these words I write To one who was also not altogether Of this world \” (4 Rooms Appendix pp. 316-19). I’ve been a fan of Rumer Godden since that fateful day when my mother took me into Interstate Book World and bought me my first copy of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. That literary love affair continued to blossom as I discovered her many other books for children and adults. As a graduate student, I wrote to her as part of my dissertation project, and I received a letter back, full of both information and inspiration, and she was writing from Greece, where I was born and had visited. She and I shared many interests, and she, and her friend and her sometime illustrator Tasha Tudor, another of my correspondents, were my muses in more ways than one. All three of us shared interests in children’s literature, gardens, the work of Frances Hodgson Burnett, and dolls houses. The older I got, the more I went back to read their children’s works, and indeed, I never did put away “childish things.” She is an eclectic writer, comfortable with poetry, journalism, fiction, nonfiction, biography, adult or children’s literature, and as Hassell Simpson writes in his Twayne study, Rumer Godden, “As a child, Rumer Godden had found that ‘writing’ need not conform to the immutable laws of the real world” (32). Godden had three sisters; her parents were Arthur and Katherine Godden, and though close to Jon, her older sister, she “believed she never quite fitted into her family structure” like many of her characters, including Nona Fell of MHMF and Bertrand in HITS, or Keiko in GGFH. She spent most of her childhood in what was then Bengal, India, now Bangladesh, and hers was an expatriate family living in a big house in Naraynaganj, affected deeply by Indian life and culture (Le-Guilcher Introduction 2010). She went back and forth between England and India for several years. Once back in England, she missed Indian life very much, so that Nona Fell is a portrait of the author (Le-Guilcher). Her headmistress, Mona Swann at her Eastbourne school, mentored her and encouraged her writing and maybe the model for similar mentors of young girls that appear in TDH, MHMF, LP, and PAFL. As a writer, Godden has enjoyed wide and universal appeal, though she is not widely in print, or read today in The United States. As Lucy Le-Guilcher writes in her introduction to her critical anthology of essays on Godden, she “resembles . . . other marginalized women writers whose careers began in the heyday of high modernism and who continued to write decades after World War II”(Le-Quilcher 2010). Le Guilcher mentions Stevie Smith, Phyllis Bottome, Storm Jameson, betty Miller and Olivia Manning, but I would add Barbara Pym, Hazel Holt, and Elizabeth Taylor. LeGuilcher also considers Godden a transnational writer, along with “other Anglo-colonial and expatriate writers, including Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Elspeth Husxley, Jean Rhys, and Katherine Mansfield” (Le-Guilcher 2010). Godden herself might add her friend M.M. Kaye, author of The Far Pavilions, to this list. Her “imaginative vision” is often compared to James Hilton’s Lost Horizon (Ibid). Several of Godden’s novels have been made into films, like cult classic Black Narcissus, The River, In this House of Brede, Enchantment, and the children’s animated classics, The Story of Holly and Ivy and The Dolls House. (See Le-Guilcher, Introduction 2010). Not only is Godden prolific, she is well versed in many genres including “novels, short fiction, poetry, illustrated books about Indian culture and mythology, biography, and autobiography” (Le-Guilcher 2010), and she has written over 60 books for children and adults. As Le-Guilcher writes, “ the most causal glance at her bibliography reveals her appeal to readers and filmgoers of all ages” (Le-Guilcher 2010). The themes she explores in her adult and children’s literature deal with colonial relations, British and Indian women’s roles in the 19th and 20th centuries, and “religious consciousness” (Le-Guilcher, Introduction 2010). Godden is also noted for writing literature for both children and adults with each type of fiction influencing the other. In works like Peacock Spring and Black Narcissus, she often uses the icons and images of childhood to add suspense or pathos to her work. In children’s works like A Dolls House and Home is the Sailor; she places the toy characters in situations that involve adult themes of suspense, betrayal, physical abuse, violence and murder. In other words, Godden seeks to make her adult literature more childlike, but her children’s literature more sinister and often sad. The author will use Godden’s novels and also personal correspondence from Godden to the author to explore these themes. Furthermore, Godden pays homage to Frances Hodgson Burnett both adult and children’s literature, especially when she writes about gardens and orphans. Indeed, Burnett was a great influence on her, (Simpson 102). the influence of The Secret Garden is most prevalent in An Episode of Sparrows. Burnett was one of Godden’s favorite childhood authors, and she remembered clearly the first time she read The Secret Garden, even though it had been over fifty years before (102). While she and her sisters lived in India, they had borrowed a copy of TSG, but had to give it back before they could finish it. Later, they received a box of books form England which contained “the familiar green volume which they eagerly devoured “(102). According to Godden, “its style was ‘dreadful ’--but pompous style and improbably plot did not matter so much. What mattered as the sense of life, of interesting life at that” (Godden quoted in Simpson 102). But in praise of the book and its author, who like Godden, loved children, India, dolls, fairy tales and dollhouses, Godden said, “Anyone who has much to do with children knows that a naughty or disagreeable heroine is far more interesting than a good one,” and cf Mary Lenox of THESG who is orphaned and must live with her uncle, “Is there anything you want? Her misanthropic uncle Craven asks her soon after she arrives. Do you want toys, books, dolls? “ “Might I, quavered Mary, “might I have a little bit of earth?” Godden’s stories are often set just after World War II, and the bleakness of that time, especially when the plot takes place in England, ads to the bleakness and creates a contrast between the beautiful flowers she describes and the grayness of the venue. Earth and dirt hold power in Godden’s books, and they seem to spread and conquer regardless of the valiant attempts of housewives to obliterate them, at least this is true of the dirt aspect of earth and gardening. She writes “. .. earth has power, an astonishing power of life . . . it can take anything, a body, an old tin, decay, rust, corruption, filth, and turn it into itself, and slowly make it life, green blades of grass and woods”(54). Cf Euell Gibbons. , In Search of the Wild Asparagus. Both Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, which is for adults, and Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which is for children deal with lonely little girls, orphaned or abandoned, who find solace, and then passion, in creating their own gardens. Burnett’s heroine Mary Lenox makes friends by discovering a secret garden long walled up and by involving her guardian’s entire household in recreating it. In the process, a spoiled, selfish, and hypochondriacal child regains both his physical and mental health because he becomes with Mary’s garden, and with Mary. Of her characters, especially the children, Simpson argues that “Rumer Godden’s characters, though generally self-centered are sometimes struck with a frustrating sense of their own insignificance. Especially striking in their consciousness of the vast sweep of events are the children and young people cast adrift, as if it were, in space and time” (61). As Harriet of The River says, “it happens, and then things come round again, begin again, and you can’t stop them. They go on happening.” (quoted in Simpson 61). ES is really the story of a garden (79). Gardens are very basic to Godden and her characters, and as Tip puts it in ES, “under everything’s dirt” (ES 54). It is so important to Lovejoy, that she asks her foster father Vincent, a Van Gosh-like restaurant owner, “What is a good garden” (54). The debt Godden owes to her children’s books in writing ES is that the story is mainly told from the POV of children. In fact, ES owes much of its plot to Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Gardens are crucial to many of Godden’s work; she is able to combine her love of children’s’ literature and child’s play with her repertoire of literary techniques which include cataloging. Throughout ES and her other books, we see Lovejoy naming the different types of plants and seeds she experiments with, and planning a variety of mini landscapes in both her gardens, so that like Michael Pollan in his essay “Weeds are Us,” Lovejoy writes an inventory of her collection (Pollan 1083). This, according to Pollan, is the hallmark of a true gardener. For Godden’s lonely, sometimes eccentric characters, gardens bring life and purpose to living for them, just as the Secret Garden helps the spoiled, unlikable Mary Lennox in a loving, accomplished young woman. For Lovejoy, the abandoned child living in bleak, postwar England, cornflower seeds make her forget her neglectful mother a little (ES 54). Like Godden when she was a child, Lovejoy has issues with fitting in. Creating a garden is also Lovejoy’s attempt to fit in to the postwar neighborhood where her mother abandons her; [LeGuilcher Kindle 2010]. as a displaced “orphan,” she has nowhere to belong, but the garden literally ties her to the earth, shared by all of us. How ironic that she is accused of trafficking in “stolen” earth and trespassing by the authorities and the Garden Society by Angela [think Angel, and the Madonna statute, religion,] when all she wants is, in this case, not a room, but a plot of her own. Once she begins to plant her garden, she begins to notice everyone growing flowers, plants, etc (56). In fact, Lovejoy’s first garden begins to grow in the midst of a bomb ruin and she uses sand to create a seaside garden, similar to that Sian and Debbie have in Home is the Sailor (61). Fearing that creating something beautiful in the midst of such desolation will get her into trouble, Lovejoy is very secretive about her garden (61). Tip’s gang of raucous, bored boys, however, destroy it, “one minute the garden was here, its stones arranged, the cornflowers growing, the grass green; the nest, there was only boots” (96). Tip, the gang leader, had sent he garden before it was destroyed, and this vision, combined with the terrible sight of Lovejoy’s tears, causes Tip sorrow (97).Surprised by his own remorse, Tip help her to find another place for the garden and to rebuild it. Their friendship, and his maturity level, grow along with her flowers. Lovejoy’s garden teaches Lovejoy to read and changes her for the better (66). As English writer Barbara Pym would say, Lovejoy finding passion, or something to love, has improved her life. Lovejoy indeed becomes passionate about anything to do with seeds, garden tools or planting; she is entranced by the garden shop, just as Emily and Charlotte are entranced by the expensive miniature furniture they see in A Dolls House. Lovejoy begins to ask about seeds and planting and at first, haunts the garden counter at Woolworth’s (80). Alas, the garden shop is too expensive for Lovejoy, so she goes to a type of thrift store, Dwight’s Repository and Sale Rooms (6) which contains “flotsam and jetsam” of every type. She beings to learn economics by planting her garden when Mr. Dwight “from under a long clothes baby doll, he brought out a small dusty fork” (67). The fork is a gardening tool, and Lovejoy begins to negotiate price. Later on, Lovejoy finds other ways to ge money for the garden, as he asks her foster father Vincent, she sings in the square for coins, and she also steals form the candle box of the bombed out church , (75), Our Lady of Sion, (71), where she plants the second garden. Ironically, this theft pricks her conscience for the first time, and she later makes amends to The Lady or Madonna, who has much in common with The Kitchen Madonna and other ritual doll statutes in Godden’s novels. The statue of the Madonna impresses her (76). Tip, though a rowdy child, also find peace in the church; the two choose the bombed church ruin as a place for the next garden… they find a place hidden by a wall an decorate it in an old cemetery that is part of the church (107). Pieces of ruined architectural moldings will decorate the garden. It’s star becomes a miniature tea rose Lovejoy names Jiminy Cricket (179). She tries the ruse of getting a penny to write her mother, but Mrs. Coombie knows her Mother’s address (69) so, in a way, Lovejoy’s mother fails her once more time (66). Lovejoy looks for money “ in palaces where money was kept like . . telephone boxes, the coppers put down for newspapers . . boxes on doors in the “Ladies’ “(70). Gardens and pretend gardens appear in Godden’s children’s novels like Great Grandfather’s House and Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and there are shell gardens and tiny flowers in Home is the Sailor. Imagination truly makes Godden’s gardens grow, and in Black Narcissus Sister Phillipa’s dreams of seed catalogs in roses in high altitudes emulate Nona’s dreams for tiny plants and Bonsai trees in MH and MF. In one scene of GGH, Old Mother encourages Keiko to pretend a picnic in the garden: “How do you pretend a picnic? “ “Have it in the garden,” said Old Mother, “a flat stone for a table. You could make it pretty with flowers and moss, maple leaves for red plates. You can cut up some needles for chopsticks. But you need careful fingers” (GGFH 42). Keiko is so inspired by Old Mother’s ideas that she soon makes seaweed, red rice, and noodles out of flower petals and grass. She also writes tiny invitations. The children of MH and MF also use pine needles for chopsticks, and they show an uncanny understanding of the tiny 1-inch, 1-foot or 1 12th scale that most miniaturists know well. Gardens at p. 76 – Mrs. Quinn spends 9 hours gardening e.g., when she seeds sprout in early February, and she goes on gardening when she hears Eustace is killed (78). It’s the war is again. “Memory is the only friend of grief” (79). Her consolation, “Even when one is stricken, much remains; after creative things . . . like gardens … Books like H.C. Andersen and Austen make up library at CC. [Godden was Andersen’s biographer. “Mother killed herself in that garden” Bella was to say and if Mrs. Quinn could have answered, :That is what I should ha e chosen to do” (87). As with Pym, Godden’s characters need a passion, they need something to love to survive, not necessarily a man or woman. p. 88. Mrs. Quinn spends a fortune on her garden ; that and her daughters are her passion” Like E.Sparrows. Also, like passion Nona has for Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. See p. 89. Tracy, Mrs. Quinn’s granddaughter says ‘ I don’t like living in books. I like Living . . .” “Cooking and doing the flowers and having animals” (86) Things getting destroyed and rebuilt; pp. 90-91 CC children build grottos, and one is smashed, as Lovejoys’ garden is destroyed in ES and Belinda destroying party by taking Miss Flower in MH and MF. See, also The Dolls House and Little Plum “A garden is not destroyed” says Mrs. Quinn,” but growing out of love itself , with its own contours”(92). See garden built by love in The Secret Garden. At p. 92- CC, Godden writes about the garden in the present tense, it is still living and growing. There are three members on the garden committee investigating an episode of stolen earth. Godden had this happen to her when she was brought earth for her garden in The Mews that had been stolen from public land. Resourcefulness is a theme here, and LovejoyMason’s resourcefulness inc rating her garden is like that of Nona of MH/MF, Emily and Charlotte of The Dolls House, and Premalata in finding her way to the market to buy lights for Diwali. Lovejoy is also an outsider, like the littlie girl Ivy of Holly and Ivy, and Nona, but Lovejoy has been hardened and lost hope, and the following description shows her harshness:” This little girl’s face was more than sly; it might have been carved in stone . . . her eyes were grey and cold as peoples. Her hair, which was very fine and mouse-colored, was cut in a fringe and fell off to her shoulder . . .” (ES 25). Lovejoy is more artful dodger than anything else; she steals, though she does not take money at first. She does take ice cream cones and comics from small children and babies, and without money of her own, her careful stealing is undetected and leaves everyone to wonder how she manages (28). Like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, Lovejoy, whose name is ironic because she has so little is treated like a servant, but it is her mother who sends her on errands, not a bad tempered cook. Mrs. Mason makes Lovejoy iron and perform housework because she is “too useful to be spared . . .” (34). So, Lovejoy’s talents are not appreciated as Nona’s are, or as Debbie's are in Home is the Sailor, they are exploited. As with the children’s books, inspiration comes to Lovejoy through a small, common object; it is a packet of cornflowers that inspires her to create a garden, just as the little bark boats inspire Keiko and the two Japanese Dolls inspire Nona to make the Japanese dolls house and garden. Notes: Mr. Anstruther is also the lawyer in China Court, and Olivia’s will made the garden possible, though she is a grey, dried up spinster (244-45). Also, though ES is a novel meant for adults, the childlike motifs that appear in her other books emerge along with the garden theme; these include the baby doll, and Mr. Dwight, who is much like Mr.____Twilfix_______, Nona’s friend in MHMF who teachers her about books and Bonsai trees. The children of Premalata and the Festival of Lights, Great Grandfather’s House, The Kitchen Madonna, MHMF, ADH, Home is the Sailor and Little Plum also learn about money, making things, and economics through pursuing a passion of theirs. Hassell Simpson writes that “an essential key to understanding Rumer Godden’s repeated reliance on contrivance and on the perpetual charm of romance [is that] she has not distinguished very much between her novels for adults and her stories for children” (101). Simpson goes on to write that “Both seem to be derived from the same impulses and to be founded on the same theory of fiction” which Godden herself sums up in her essay “The writer must Become as a Child,” which she published the same hear as Hans Christian Andersen: Denying the common assumption that children’s books are simple and easy to write, Miss Godden (at that time the author of three published juvenile books) declared that writing for children requires humility. Pointing to the authors of famous books for children, she noted that true children’s classics never have a “big plot written down, but a little one written up” They must “sound well” to a child’s ear; they must be dramatic, swift of movement, and clear, with “few side tracks” and “no opinions”; and, finally, they must have something more, “an aftertaste, a flavor that lingers . . . a personality” (Quoted in Simpson 102). Simpson goes on to say that, like Andersen, Godden spoke to children in their own discourse; she did not talk “down to them” (102). Rather, she “approaches them on their level. Their interests are hers—dolls, making dollhouses and small gardens and decorated pictures, learning worldly skills and sympathy for other persons and (not incidentally) growing up. (102). While her characters are simple, they are real recognizable people, including Belinda, the willful but loveable Tomboy, and Bertrand, the obnoxious, but bright boy at school who becomes a “regular” guy after he gets his comeuppance. ‘ In GGFH and her other books that deal with miniatures and dollhouse, Godden imitates her illustrator/author friend Tasha Tudor who created miniature dolls feasts in her books, especially The Dolls’ Christmas. Godden’s heroine Lovejoy is a spoiled little girl whose mother is an actress. Her mother abandons her, and the child must find ways to amuse herself, but also to stay with the middle-aged couple who have become her defacto guardians.[Relevant comment by Simpson; “In the eyes of adults, an unfaithful wife may be reprehensible in leaving her children as well as her husband, but she is allowed to do so. In the eyes of her children however, [the mother] has betrayed them . . .” (88).] She is lonely, and does not quite fit in. She saves, steals, and buys what she needs to grow a garden among the ruins of a London bombing until a gang of young boys tramples it. When the leader relents, the two find a new place for their “secret garden” in the ruins of a bombed out church. The bombed sites, reduced to rubble and dirt, are fertile; “these bombed sites … grow 137 kinds of weeds” (54). And like the weeds, the children of ES thrive along with their friendships as they create their gardens. Godden uses this theme of lonely orphans in her children’s books as well. She often writes of the loneliness of being in a strange place, something that affects Nona, Bertrand of Home is the Sailor, Lovejoy, Lise, and Keiko, the sisters of Peacock Spring and her heroines in children and adult books. Nona, like the little girl in Episode of Sparrows, is without family. She, however, has only her father left, and he lives in India. Again, we see the tribute to Burnett, who’s Sarah Crewe, is also a motherless child, sent to London while her father lives in India. Ivy is an orphan in Holly and Ivy, who uses a ruse to runaway from her orphanage at Christmas in search of a family. She gazes at an “orphan doll” Holly in a toy shop, and then is rescued by a police officer who ends up, with his wife, adopting her. British Colonial Literature; When the Empire Doesn’t write Back; Originally, Salman Rushdie coined the term “The Empire Writes Back to the Centre,” as a parody of the famous Star War’s The Empire Strikes Back (Zabus 1). According to Zabus, “Centre defines Britian, back in the 16th century, the age of exploration and colonial expansion during which England became a world power (1). Centre also refers to the 19th century, when English “began to be studied as an academic subject and became linked to the spread of colonial education for the “natives”(1). “Writing back to the center involves rewriting or re-visioning history from the perspective of those colonized, not those who conquer. In other words, when members of the British colonies write back, they tell their own story from their own POV, and thus create counter narratives. Godden’s novels set in India and those that feature Anglo-Indian characters write back to the centre since Godden has lived in India and is familiar with its culture. Her perspective on India and its people is far different from that of Victorian writers who wrote of India and Indians. Godden was herself an expatriate who later missed her Indian home and returned to it as an adult, after she read A Passage to India (1924) she became “aware of her ignorance of the cultural riches of India, of Indian Religion and philosophy, art and literature” (Chisholm 1998 40, quoted in Le-Guilcher Introduction 2010). Godden says of herself, “ I was ashamed of my blindness and ignorance, ashamed of how little I knew of India or had tried to know” (Time 1987, 68). She made herself learn about India, her second home, and then addressed postcolonial concerns in her writing. Her writing shows both knowledge and empathy of India and her people (See Le-Guilcher). Moreover, growing up in India in multicultural household taught her appreciation and respect for other cultures and religion. These “religious influences were significant”during her stay in India (Simpson 23). Diwali, the Indian Feast of Lights, figures in many of her books including Premalata and the Feast of Lights. In Godden’s home, Diwali was celebrated by “Hindu, Christian, and Moslem alike; and they all joined in the observance of Christmas” (Simpson 23). In 1927, Godden returned to England and trained as a dance teacher; she then went back to India and opened the Peggie Godden School of Dance in Calcutta, and Indian dance was to influence her writing as well, in A F in Time (1945), KCF and CC (Le-Guilcher 2010). Godden is also seen as a post colonial, white writer, who writes in the last days of the British Empire as it was then know, as Le-Guilcher writes, Godden written “when the British Empires struggled to yield the last vestiges of global Power (Le- Guilcher 2010). Of her geographical settings, which are as much Godden’s characters as any Nona or Belinda, or Tottie, Le-Guilcher and others comment that Godden’s settings “engage a modernist uncertainty about her own position as representing such nomadic Others as gypsies, as well as the displacements of war and discontents of domestic and family life “ (Ibid). This last theme of domestic discontent and displacement often dominates her children’s’ works like Home is the Sailor, A Dolls House, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Little Plum, The Story of Holly and Ivy and Impunity Jane. It is a running theme in China Court, An Episode of Sparrows, Peacock Spring, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, and her other adult novels. It is uncommon for Rumer Godden to write of the “condition of enforced and elected exile within the changing political and cultural borders of colonial and postcolonial nations” (Le-Guilcher Introduction 2010). Godden challenged the understanding of what Le-Guilcher calls Middlebrow, or popular culture and tastes with the various domestic roles women played in European and Asian society. For example, Kingfishers Catch Fire “depicts colonial relations as a dark, indeed sometime harrowing, domestic comedy about an Englishwoman’s attempts to go native in Kashmir” (Le-Guilcher 2010). Godden gives women of color, and women under colonial rule, the right not just to speak, but to laugh (Stetz 119-20 quoted in Le- Guilcher Introduction 2010). Godden is herself a displaced person in India and other places where she has lived, sometimes self-exiled, sometimes not, and she uses humor “to show the political and cultural costs of the Englishwoman’s own colonized position, then the middlebrow pleasures of reading domestic comedy assume a critical perspective”(Le-Guilcher 2010). Gyathri Prabhu writes that “class boundaries are both reified and subverted when the subject is a colonial woman single mother with no stable place in either British or Anglo-India Society” [or a child, as in the case of Nona Fell in England, MHMF and LP). Connor writes that Godden’s Anglo-Indian life and writing from inside India gave her the “inside-out” perspective to question whether she and her British characters could even claim ‘national belonging’ ” (84). As a single woman, living independently, she “risked social disapproval (Chisholm 57) and notes that “In Calcutta’s then almost closed society, ‘nice girls’ didn’t work or try to earn their living,” (Time 1987 86). Yet, Godden was a nice girl who managed to support herself and her two daughters on her writing, even when her first marriage fell apart . She was in touch with writers contemporary to her including M. M. Kaye and Paul Scott, writers who also wrote about India and Asia as expatriate Europeans. Much of her work reads like the novels of Pearl Buck and tell main story from the perspective of European and non Europeans, repatriated and displaced. See Raj Quartet’; Godden knew Scott She was greatly influenced by E.M. Forsters’s A Passage to India and she read Virginia Woolf. Some of the displaced characters find their way into her children’s novels. Nona Feel and her Japanese Dolls, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, are displaced persons who become repatriated and acclimated, yet who maintain their uniqueness and diversity. Gwen of Little Plum is out of her class, until her mother recovers and she can join the other neighborhood children. It is another displaced Japanese Doll that links her to Nona’s family and their friendship. The Dolls House: Her first Children’s book, deals with an entire family of very different types of dolls who are displaced persons immediately after World War II, but who inherit a magnificent dolls house. See also The River, shows interest in child characters caught between the worlds of an Anglo-Indian childhood and the adulthood that brings an end to indulgent innocence (Peacock Spring, too, and MJH, MF, goodness herself found it “difficult to adjust to English life” and there she finished in 1946 Xmas, TDH (Le-Guilcher) Between 1951-72, 13 Children’s books (Chisholm 249). Lovejoy, to of An Episode of Sparrows is displaced by the War and by her mother’s abandonment, and in these novels, some benefactor or family group comes together to make the children belong and fit in. In Godden’s books for children and adults, she “shows how the nation constitutes itself in the family where belonging and alienation begin and often end” and where these issues are “also woven together in Godden’s writing about gypsies, as conditions of exile and nomadism intersect with and provide a critical lens thorough which she examines the discontinuities of family life and domestic order” (Le-Guilcher 2010). That children’s writing was important to the author is evidenced in the 12 new juvenile books she wrote between 1956-1972 (Simpson 30). In fact, after returning to England in 1945, Godden became more and more involved with children’s writing and The Dolls’ House, originally illustrated by Tasha Tudor, was published in 1947 (30). Of TDH, Le-Guilcher writes “shows . .. when postwar child-rearing psychologies are dramatized as a children’s story in Godden’s The Dolls House 91947) and Impunity Jane (1955) [about the time Dare Wright was doing The Lonely Doll Books]. (Le-Guilcher). From the start, Charlotte’s and Emily’s cleverness and imagination furnish Plantaganet Doll House, e.g., a marble is Apple’s ball, a purple tiddley wink is a plate for Darner the Dog. The sisters are also living in postwar England, and are preoccupied with money, “ Emily says “ we must make money.” “But how?” asks Charlotte. (“How”) asked all the Plantaganets. “Somehow” said Emily (44). After getting ideas from looking at some expensive dollhouse furniture, the girls hire Mrs. Innisfree to create petit point upholstery for the doll furniture they have. They have some money, and negotiate with her for her labor (55). Mrs. Innisfree offers to pay them for loaning her Tottie, the antique wooden doll who is the anchor of the Plantaganet Doll Family, the girls refuse the money, feeling I would be orally wrong to hire out Tottie who is both heirloom and beloved family member.. Note there is an Ellen in Cromartie and other Indian Novels and one in Impunity Jane. Peacock Spring/Miss Happiness and Miss Flower also The Raj Quarter by Paul Scott Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, 1961, is the story of two Japanese dolls sent to England in a parcel. They are émigrés from every far away, and anxious about their new home, just as Nona, the little girl who becomes their mistress, is a displaced Anglo-Indian child who has had to leave India and her widowed, beloved father and Ayah, to live with her English aunt and uncle. Though English, Nona has lived in India so long, that like some of the misplaced characters of The Raj Quartet, she really isn’t sure she belongs anywhere. Nona is dark, and exotic, she is always cold, and wears exquisite silver bangles as her legacy form India. As a way to make friends and combat her loneliness, Nona adopts the two dolls, learns about Japan, and with the help of her cousins and English family and some interested friends she makes, creates a Japanese dollhouse and gardens to make the dolls feel at home. Nona learns to make things for the dollhouse, and uses pencil boxes as cupboards, and makes rice out of cut up thread, chopsticks out of needles. Godden writes about the book in diary in June 1960 that the dolls’ garden was real, and was created by Anne Ashberry of “Miniature Gardens” who also created a miniature rose garden for the Queen. Premalata and the Feast of Lights and Cromarite Premalata and Ravi are two Indian children with a baby sister and a widowed mother who works all the time, and who has no time for her children, or even to comb her hair (PFL 1). She has sold her bangle bracelets, her dowry, all their possessions save Dhala their water buffalo (10) who is really family and who provides milk and dung for them, and even has sold the deepas or Diwali lights so important to families in her village. Young as she is, Premalata is preoccupied with money, and she delivers the cheese her mother makes as an income to Zamander’s household and remains steadfast in the price she asks, even when the housekeeper Paru Didu tries to cheat her. Both Zamander and Paru Didi are plump, and being fat ias associated with walthe and “good eating.” There are images of the fearsome goddess Kali, and there is an idol maker who plays a role in the book. As poor as they are, even Premlata's family has “doll house sized idols” at home (2). The images of the Hindu deities also play a role in Cromartie v. The God Shiva, an adult novel set in India, another of Godden’s favorite locales for her story is, in part because the author spent many years living there . Zamander is the landlord of the village, and he lives in a big, whitewashed house. His elephant is a friend of Premalata’s (15). He is kind, and when he hears of Premalata’s plight, he give her 35 rupees for deepas, and Prem must now use all her resources and imagination to find a way to ge t back and forth to the market to buy them (19). Like Lovejoy, Nona, Emily./Charlotte, and Sian, of the other children’s novels, Prem has a plan to get to market and to find the things she wants. She gets to the market, and thing learns a lesson in allocation a funds, as she spends money on her family, and then has none for deepas. She begins by buying her baby sister a toy, because Meetu has never had a toy: (29), Later, she haggles over the price as she buys a silver bangle for her mother (29). DISCUSS IMPORTANCE OF BANGLE BRACELETS AND Jewelry TO Indian women, see Indira Gandhi, too. Paru Dido’s throwaway deepas (52) are important symbols, because throwaways are recycled in other stories, took in to toys, e.g, Birdie the cracker doll, the tiddley wink that is Darner’s plate, scraps used to dress the dolls. Like Ivy and the dolls Curly and Impunity Jane, Prem goes on a journey or quest. Like Nona of MHMF, Mama had bangles, but now she only has one copper one, cherished because her late husband gave it her ((4). In Cromartie, there is a statute of a god Shiva, and we learn it is not the price of the Idol that is important, but is’ representation in the house (17-19). The proprietor of the lavish, dignified hotel isn’t upset when the valuable statue is stolen because she has a lovely reproduction in its place, ensuring that the god is present, serving the same purpose that Premalata’s tiny, doll house sized idols serve in her house. “It is not a fake.. it was time [for the antique statue] to move on but very kindly he left himself behind for us” (Cromartie 5) In Cromartie, when he fake idol is worthy of having flowers laid at its feet 917-19), just as candles are offered to Our Lady of Sion in ES, and just as The Kitchen Madonna with her dolls hair nad toffee paper embellishments is just as precious as the finest church statue. Home is the Sailor and China Court : China Court (1961, one year after MHMF): Of CC, it has been writing that “the novels’ intertextual oscillations between Victorian and post-World War II settings and characters, as well as an implied commentary on V. Woolf’s modernism, suggest a dynamically reflexive history of the 19th and 20th century British novel that questions extant boundaries of periodization” (Phyllis Lassner quoted in Le-Guilcher Introduction 2010). Mr. Quinn’s clerk, Jeremy Baxter is kept because he is clever and cheap, and Mr. Quinn “dearly loves a bargain” (68). Anne wants to work for poor people (69). Characters in CC are like those in The Dolls House (75) and Home is the Sailor. “At China Court, loved things were not thrown away”(94). Like Tottie and The Dolls House. p. 98-99 Chelsea Shepard and Shepardess also appear in Home is the Sailor. China is being valued by Mr. Perceval by Anstruther and Firm, who also appear in other books. They are Valuers and Assessors, but don’t know value to family (98). Mrs. Quinn’s children want her antiques assessed so the nature of their inheritance is known. “Like strangers with a guidebook “ in not knowing what to keep or throw away (99). See Miller’s book. Nuns and The Kitchen Madonna: Religion and religious communities are also popular themes in Godden’s adult and children’s books, but she notes in HW4R that when her publishers first asked her to write another book on nuns after In this House of Brede, the book which became Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, Godden replied, “How could I?” Black Narcissus was begun when Godden learned she was pregnant again, and she stayed with her parents in Cornwall, 1938). BN is about Anglo-Catholic nuns in India, and the book received favorable reviews. The book came out in Jan. 1939, like The Grapes of Wrath, Ulysses, and GWTW. The book “turned her at the age of 31 into a professional wrier nad brought her, for the first time, solid critical and commercial success both in the UK and America (Chilsholm 90). VFSTFJ tells the story of tLes Souers de Bethanie (France), a real order whose members when Godden was writing was made up of at least 50% criminals. Former addicts, prostitutes, even murderers made up the ranks of the sisters, while the rest where “regular” nuns who followed a normal calling. They went about with anonymous names. They had houses in Germany, Amsterdam, Italy, and America, and one house in Britain. After she wrote the book, Godden was afraid to go to the book signing; she feared no one would come, but she was showered with flowers and telegrams, and the lines circled the block. She was especially relieved and pleased because the signing took place on Godden’s 70th birthday. In the context of writing this book, Godden was asked “what makes you think your books are different form anyone else’s?” Her answer was “because they were written by me.” (4Rms 313). Religion plays a role in Episode of Sparrows just as it does in The Kitchen Madonna, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, In this House of Brede and Black Narcissus. The statue of the Madonna which wears real clothes and jewelry is much like The Kitchen Madonna, or the Idols of Premalata and Cromartie v. The God Shiva. She stirs Lovejoy’s conscience after the scheming little girl takes money from the offering box, and she provides a home for the Lovejoy’s garden in the ruins of the church. As with her adult novels about religion, there is religious language ins ES; “Lovejoy did more than think about [clothes]; she had been trained in them as in a religion . ‘One must look smart’ –that was her mother’s creed, and Lovejoy was her mother’s disciple” (ES 29). Great Grandfather’s House: In this short book for children, Godden returns again to the theme of writing about a displaced child who must travel to stay with a relative she does not know well, here, a great-grandfather. Just as she did in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower and Little Plum, Godden showcases her vast knowledge of Japanese culture within the boundaries of her plot. Keiko, a city child, goes to spend time in the country with her great-grandfather. She is not at all accustomed to the simpler life in the rural area, and she often ridicules her family’s lifestyle. Keiko brings store bought toys, far more sophisticated than her little cousin, and she encourages the little boy at one point to throw out his beloved, but worn panda. As in some of her adult novels, especially Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, Godden emphasizes aspects of farm life, like collecting eggs. She talks again of gardens and self-subsistence. Resourcefulness, yet another theme that permeates her children’s and adult novels is no stranger in GGH, either. As with Episode of Sparrows, gardens and flowers are key to the characters development. In GGH, Keiko learns to make toys out of chips of bark and walnut shells, with twigs for masts and postage stamps for sales. Yosi tries to share his simple toys with her, and to him, they are important because GGH showed him how to make them. They are a tradition. Keiko at first scorns the little boats and says derisively, “But . . . you don’t make toys. You buy them” (GGH 23). After awhile, like the bratty and skeptical Belinda of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Keiko warms to the idea of making toys and find she enjoys homemade playthings. She learns to appreciate the bamboo hobbyhorses that Gen-Son makes for them (27). Gardens, playthings, resourcefulness, alienation, building families and religion are themes that influence Godden’s adult and children’s literature. Her stories are woven with her own life experiences in India and Asia, as well as her post war Experience in England. As she herself wrote, she liked alternating her adult writing with her children’s writing because she felt it kept her skills sharp. Sharp they were, indeed, so that she has crossed genres and tells stories from post colonial, European, adult, child, female, and religious perspectives that would otherwise not have a voice. Like H.C. Andersen who she admired and wrote of, she wove tales that transcended cultures and generations to teach new pupils all the time. Perhaps one day, her diversity and devotion to humanity will earn her a well-deserved place in the literary canon.

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Kindness to the Poor and Sara Crewe's Emotional an...

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Kindness to the Poor and Sara Crewe's Emotional an...: Below is my paper on A Little Princess, with sources. This was given at a recent MMLA convention, and it is really a long outline or series...

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving: Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. E and all her Blogs! Proclamation of Thanksgiving Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863 This is the proclamati...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: To the Muses of my Blogs

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: To the Muses of my Blogs: Our beloved Anne Rice has her People of the Page, and I have my readres/viewers, my extended family which I call The Muses of my Blogs. For...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Here is some is some information about Laura Ingalls Wilder; I've been privileged to visit some of the historical sites and have a good collection of her books and other related artifacts. I have also seen some presentations of her work. I always think of her at holidays for her vivid descriptions and the cozy feelings they evoked. In the past, I have taught several courses about and related to her, and we did the Little House on the Praire Christmas gifts in one. Enjoy: Laura Ingalls Wilder Return to LIW index Laura Ingalls Wilder 1857, February 13. Almanzo James Wilder is born to James and Angeline Day Wilder on a farm near Malone, New York. 1867, February 7. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls is born to Charles Philip and Caroline Quiner Ingalls in a log cabin near Pepin, Wisconsin. 1869. The Ingalls family leaves Wisconsin and moves to Kansas. 1871. The Ingalls family returns to Pepin, Wisconsin. 1874. The Ingalls family moves to Walnut Grove, Minnesota. 1876. The Ingalls family leaves Minnesota and moves to Burr Oak, Iowa. 1878. The Ingalls family leaves Iowa and returns to Walnut Grove, Minnesota. 1879. Almanzo Wilder files a homestead claim near DeSmet, Dakota Territory. The Ingalls family leaves Minnesota and moves to DeSmet, Dakota Territory. Almanzo Wilder 1885, August 25. Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder are married. She and Almanzo make their new home on his claim at DeSmet. 1886, December. Rose Wilder is born. 1888, Spring. Almanzo and Laura suffer from diphtheria. Almanzo resumes work too soon and suffers a relapse causing a stroke that leaves him partially paralyzed. Even though he recovers from the paralysis, he has permanently crippled feet. 1888, August. A baby is born on August 12, lives 12 days and is buried in De Smet, South Dakota. 1889, August 23. Laura and Almanzo lose their home to fire. They build a two-room shanty on the claim. 1890-1891. Laura and Almanzo move to Spring Valley, Minnesota and then to Westville, Florida seeking recovery for Almanzo's weakened health. 1892, August. Laura and Almanzo return to a rented house in DeSmet, South Dakota. Laura works at sewing and Almanzo does carpentry. 1894, July 17. Laura and Almanzo leave DeSmet to build a new home in the Missouri Ozarks. Laura keeps a diary of the trip, later published as "On the Way Home." Rocky Ridge Farm 1894, August 31. Laura and Almanzo arrive in Mansfield, Missouri with $100 saved from Laura's sewing money. They make a down payment on a 40-acre place that Laura names "Rocky Ridge Farm." In later years, Laura will write the "Little House" books at Rocky Ridge Farm. 1912-1920's. Laura serves as a columnist and as the Home Editor for the "Missouri Ruralist." 1919. Laura writes "The Farmer's Wife Says" for the June issue of "McCall's" magazine. 1925. Laura publishes "My Ozark Kitchen" in the January 17 issue of "Country Gentleman." 1932. Harpers Brothers of New York publishes "Little House in the Big Woods," which is a Junior Literary Guild selection. Harper and its successor firms will publish all subsequent "Little House" titles. 1933. "Farmer Boy" is published. 1935. "Little House on the Prairie" is published. 1937. "On the Banks of Plum Creek" is published. 1938. "On the Banks of Plum Creek" is named Newbery Honor Book by the American Library Association. 1939. "By the Shores of Silver Lake" is published. 1940. "The Long Winter" is published. "By the Shores of Silver Lake" is named an ALA Newbery Honor Book. 1941. "Little Town on the Prairie" is published. "The Long Winter" is named an ALA Newbery Honor Book. 1942. "By the Shores of Silver Lake" is awarded Pacific Northwest Library Young Reader's Choice Award. "Little Town on the Prairie" is named an ALA Newbery Honor Book. 1943. "These Happy Golden Years" is published. 1944. "These Happy Golden Years" is named an ALA Newbery Honor Book. 1949, October 23. Almanzo dies of heart failure at Rocky Ridge Farm. 1953. The "Little House" books are reissued with new illustrations by Garth Williams. 1954 . The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award is established; Laura Ingalls Wilder is presented with the first award. 1957, February 10. Laura dies of heart failure at Rocky Ridge Farm three days after her 90th birthday. 1962. "On the Way Home" is published. 1968, October 30. Rose Wilder Lane dies in her sleep at the age of 81. 1971. "The First Four Years" is published. The "Little House" books are issued in paperback. 1974. "West from Home" is published.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Emma's Dolls

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Emma's Dolls: I missed posting on Halloween/Samhain. Life has become out of control around the museum, though we did put in a proposal for a brick and mo...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

From Rumer Godden by Hassel Simpson

On poetry: Godden says "A love and understanidng of poetry brings a perception, a sort of sixth sense, that makes its possessor quick to life--quick in the sense of being very much alive--quick to the world around him. It rescues him from dullness, gives him as ense of form, a mental discipline." Amen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: How we read Changes Faces

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: How we read Changes Faces: From the newsletters of one of my alma maters; the changing face of reading.  How do you read? The Changing Face of Reading Tonight, wh...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ch 6 of my Book on Pym- A Few Green Leaves

Ellen Tsagaris Page 1 10/10/12 The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym The Popular Press, 1998 ISBN: 0-87972-763-2 Chapter 6: The Sweet Dove Died, Quartet in Autumn and A Few Green Leaves The novels discussed in Chapter Five, No Fond Return of Love, An Unsuitable Attachment, and An Academic Question, all involve attachments which may seem unsuitable to some, but which result in some type of happy relationship. No Fond Return of Love and An Unsuitable Attachment involve single, excellent women who also fulfill the roles of romance heroines. An Academic Question deals with a wife who must endure a "rival woman" and who must also perform a task for her husband to prove she loves him. Pym's subversion of the romance genre is often light-hearted and witty in these novels. Death, when it appears, is a bit player. The same cannot be said, though, of the three novels discussed in Chapter Six. The Sweet Dove Died, Quartet in Autumns, and A Few Green Leaves also have their humorous moments, but the humor is laced with sadness, at times even with regret or bitterness. For example, the relationships in The Sweet Dove Died are often painful and humiliating for those involved. Moreover, of the themes in The Sweet Dove Died is the decay of beauty. So, for the first time, perhaps in a Pym novel, the heroine must cope with the fact that she is alone and losing her looks. She also suffers pain because she twice loses the younger man who is the object of her affection to youthful rivals. Quartet in Autumns, on the other hand, is perhaps the least romantic of Pym's books. The single women who are Pym's heroines in this novel lead isolated lives; they are forgotten by society and bereft of friends and family. The heroine of A Few Green Leaves acts as if she has read The Sweet Dove Died and Quartet in Autumn. In her mid to late thirties, she instinctively knows what her fate will be if she remains a spinster. Moreover, there are plenty of older spinsters in the novel who serve as examples of what might happen to her. In her last novel, Pym undermines romance by showing its hollowness; it fails its devotees after they age and lose their first youth, as it fails Miss Grundy, the one-time romance novelist. For Miss Grundy, Miss Lickerish, Miss Vereker and Daphne Dagnall of A Few Green Leaves, there is no Mr. Rochester waiting for them. Instead of love and happy endings, Pym's last three novels are full of irony , pathos, grim humor and contrasting portraits of loneliness. They are also about solitary existence which offers no community of support. Therefore, as Diana Benet writes in Something to Love, Pym's last three novels are about the "failure to recognize the need for love" (119). Lotus Snow writes in One Little Room an Everywhere that The Sweet Dove Died is a novel woven of "Ironic competitions" and contrasts (16). The main characters are Leonora Eyre, Humphrey Boyce, and his nephew, James. The two men run an antique shop dealing in porcelain, bronzes and small objects. James at twenty-four is beautiful but not too intelligent and "sexually ambivalent" (16). His uncle, a widower near sixty, is self-assured, financially successful and pompous. The two meet Leonora after she faints at an auction of antique books, and they immediately begin to compete for her favors. Leonora is sexually cold, but is attracted to the beautiful and passive James. Both men love beautiful clothing and objects, and Leonora uses these to ensnare them. Also, James could be the younger version of Leonora; they often have the same thoughts and refer to themselves in the third person as "one." Leonora is also brittle, harsh, vain, and elegant. She has no compassion for anyone but herself, but her friends Meg and Liz provide ironic foils for her own aloof personality. Liz is divorced; Meg is a spinster. While Leonora fulfills her need for something to love with the vapid James, Liz cares for siamese cats. Meg, however, is infatuated with a gay boy, Colin, who continually leaves her and returns to her. According to Annette Weld, Pym felt that The Sweet Dove Died was one of the best books she had ever written (171). The story paralleled her own unrequited affection for Richard Roberts, a man younger than she, who was an antique dealer (171). Like Leonora, Pym often suffered from Roberts' indifference and in 1962 she wrote about "the middle-aged or elderly novelist and the young man who admires her and is taken in by her . . . he is cruel to her (MS. 55 Fol.16, quoted in Groner 5). James Boyce may not have been as emotionally cruel to Leonora as Richard Roberts was to Pym, but James did take advantage of Leonora. For example, he accepted shelter, gifts and food from her as if it were his due. In accepting good food and in allowing himself to be waited on, James is not so different from other Pym men. If food for Leonora is a way of keeping James close to her, it is also a means for maintaining her own isolated existence and for emphasizing her love of perfection. The scene at the tearoom is an excellent example. Leonora prefers dainty, creme filled gateau with her tea. Like her, these tiny cakes are delicate, fancy, but without much substance. When Phoebe, whom Leonora does know at the time, inadvertently takes the last gateau, Leonora is at a loss. Her perfect world is physically diminished and she must settle for another cake. Perhaps the incident is a metaphor for Leonora's relationship with James. At one point, James says he feels like a creme cake, and Leonora does, at least temporarily, lose her "creme cake," James, to Phoebe. She must settle for her second-favorite cake, as she must settle for Humphrey's affections by the end of the novel. Leonora, moreover, is different from other Pym women because food, drink and clothing do not in themselves provide satisfaction for her. Instead, these simple necessities only become pleasures for Leonora when they serve to preserve her beauty and to maintain her elegant but isolated existence. For example, she dresses in extreme good taste in styles that are calculated not to reveal her age. When an outfit makes her look older, Leonora is not aware of the effect. So, only Humphrey notes the black lace dress she wears on one occasion makes her look washed out. Furthermore, when James comments on the fact that an outfit ages her by calling it Leonora's "autumnal outfit," she becomes flirtatious with James. Leonora is able to flirt with James about her clothes because she is a narcissistic woman who feels "secure enough" to joke with him (SDD 47). When James refers to her dress as autumnal, Leonora quips, "You mean that I look old? That I'm in the autumn of life?" (SDD 47). That may be exactly what James means, but she cannot accept his comment other than as a joke because she sees herself as ageless (Benet 124). Perhaps because she considers herself to be ageless, Leonora is one of the most romantic of Pym's heroines. For example, Diana Benet in Something to Love calls her an older Prudence Bates (119). In some ways, she seems to have stepped right out of a Barbara Cartland novel. For example, like many Cartland heroines, she belongs in a nineteenth century culture. In one scene, she looks into a flawed antique fruitwood mirror and is please to see a woman from what she thinks is another century (SDD 89). The mirror is "flawed," moreover, because it hides her age lines and aging skin. Also, like a character from The Age of Innocence, Leonora does not have to work because a legacy from her parents has left her what Woolf might call "a room of her own." She no longer has to work at her "unworthy occupation" of seeing textbooks through the press (SDD 17). She loves perfection, even in her surroundings, and hides a cream pitcher that is chipped. Yet, though she may be an incurable romantic, Leonora is not a pleasant or considerate person. She resembles the scheming Madame Merle in Henry James' Portrait of Lady . In fact, Leonora herself reads Henry James (SDD 200). Moreover, the plot involving an affair between an older woman and a younger man somewhat undermines the standard romance plot where the hero is often slightly older than the heroine. In some ways, Leonora's experiments with men echo gothic romance plots. Yet, unlike the gothic heroine, Leonora has an aversion to sex. At one point, while Leonora and Humphrey are walking, she sees a giant totem pole in the park, "shattering the peaceful beauty of the landscape" (SDD 37). Leonora thinks, "What a hideous phallic symbol. . . but of course one wouldn't mention it, only hurry by with head averted" (SDD 37). Passionate kisses also revolt her (SDD 92). Ironically, The Sweet Dove Died is about as sexually explicit as Pym gets. Humphrey fumbles with the front of Leonora's dress as he tries to kiss her, and she recoils in panic: He is going to kiss me, Leonora thought in sudden panic, pray heaven no more than that. She tried to protest, even to scream, but no sound came. Humphrey was larger and stronger than she was and his kiss very different from the reverent touch on lips, cheek or brow which was all James seemed to want. . . . Surely freedom from this sort of thing was among the compensation of advancing age . . . one really ought not to be having to fend people off any more. (SDD 92) Leonora, like other narcissistic women, finds the physical side of love distasteful. She is in some ways, like a character created by Elizabeth Taylor, a friend of Pym's. In Taylor's Angel, the heroine is a romance novelist who writes lurid tales of love, but who shrinks from sex. The narrator says, "Like many romantic narcissistic women she shied away from the final act of love-making" (Taylor 155). Furthermore, Leonora does not want the emotional pain she may open herself up to by loving someone else (Nardin 123). Neither does she care to substitute an animal. She is totally absorbed in her self and sustained by narcissism. For her, a full life consists of a home filled with her objects, decorated to her taste, and reflecting her own solitude and independence. Phoebe, Leonora's rival for James's affections, is the complete opposite of Leonora. Though Phoebe is a would-be author, her writing is unexceptional, her poetry worse, her housekeeping and cooking are downright disastrous. As Weld notes, Phoebe, who wears unusual clothes and is artistic, has a few traits in common with Catherine Oliphant of Less Than Angels, but she lacks Catherine's talent for writing and for cooking (175). In Susan Gorsky's terms, described in Chapter One, Phoebe does not make a satisfactory rival woman. Ned, James's homosexual friend, makes a far better rival for James's affections. Ned thrives on the drama of romance and for him the climax is "the defeat of a rival, the passion of a moment, the familiar ennui, the infidelities and the theatrical partings" (SDD 204). In fact, Ned sees himself as a protagonist in many of these situations. If Ned is the protagonist of the novel, James is the romantic hero. James is the nephew of an antique dealer, Humphrey Boyce. Both James and Humphrey are interested in Leonora, but for different reasons. Marlene St. Miguel Groner writes in her dissertation on Pym that James has no reality other than that which Leonora places on him (83). He does not know who he is yet, so he allows others to define his roles in life. Leonora, like the heroines discussed in Chapter Three, manages to transform James into her ideal and perfect companion. In fact, James himself fells at times that Leonora created him (SDD 51). Groner writes that as long as James and Leonora share the same "fictive reality" James is content to play the part Leonora writes for him (Groner 83). In playing the part Leonora that writes for him, however, James has lost whatever portion of his personality is already formed. He is passive, not at all Byronic, and unoriginal. He has beautiful golden hair like a cherub, but he lacks character. He does not even have the ridiculous idiosyncracies or quirks which other Pym heroes have, and which make them interesting. James is at a loss to deal with the relationships in his life, particularly with the controlling Leonora. Groner writes that he identifies with neutered cats and kittens and other caged animals (Groner 84). For example, the flat Leonora prepares for him at the top of her own house has bars on its windows. When James notices the bars with some chagrin, Leonora assures him that the room was probably a nursery (SDD 129). In some ways, the room is like the one which imprisons the heroine of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, for there seems to be no escape for James from the clutches of Leonora. Yet, the nursery motif fits the immature James, too. It is a comic way for Pym to deal with the Oedipal attraction between James and the much older Leonora. Perhaps Pym was spoofing herself a bit, and her involvement with the younger Richard Roberts. Weld also notes that James is the "sweet dove" of Keats' poem for which the novel is named. Perhaps Pym reduced further the image of the Byronic hero in James. At least her other men who imitate Byronic heroes in some way are handsome, even virile. For example, Fabian Driver of Jane and Prudence may carry an umbrella and may be a womanizer, but he is, as far as the reader knows, sexually potent. Also, there is sexual attraction between Ianthe and John Challow in An Unsuitable Attachment, and Nicholas Cleveland of Jane and Prudence and Everard Bone of Excellent Women are handsome men, if a bit eccentric. James, on the other hand, is petulant and childlike. He quickly sickens on Leonora and feels at one point like a child who eats too many creme cakes. While Pym writes of creme cakes, she hasn't much to write about wedding cake in The Sweet Dove Died. Yet, marriage is present in the novel, if only in the way that Leonora rejects it. She considers her married acquaintances to be silly, and rejects the institution itself by refusing to be insulted by people who wonder why she has not married. Leonora also rejects suitable social roles for single women, many of which are discussed in Chapter Three in this dissertation. For example, she is not at all interested in church jumble sales or in charity work. Leonora reasons that she has not married because, as with everything else, she would expect perfection in marriage. Of course, no one has lived up to Leonora's inhumanly perfect expectations. While Leonora Eyre seems to be a bit inhuman because of her love of perfection, the characters of Quartet in Autumn are all too human, leading solitary, imperfect lives full of pathos. Quartet in Autumn is the story of four office workers in late middle age. Marcia, Letty, Edwin and Norman have seen each other every day at work for years, but they have virtually nothing to do with each other outside work. Instead, each lives a life that centers on his or her idiosyncracies and on how to survive in a world increasingly hostile to elderly people who are alone in the world. None of the four has family nearby, either. Letty has never married; she is, perhaps, what Belinda Bede might have become had she not had Harriet. Edwin is a widower, but his children live far away, so he is not close to them or to his grandchildren. As a result, the Church has become his family; his entire discourse is centered on religious affairs. Norman is cantankerous and appears to be unfriendly, yet he proves a capable friend to the others. Marcia is the most isolated and the most eccentric of the four. She collects and organizes tinned food and plastic bags, and is very specific about which milk bottles she will store in her shed. Marcia dresses in garments that resemble the tatters of a jester or of Harlequin, yet she is a kind of aging, romantic princess. In her mind, her surgeon is the Prince Charming she was denied in her youth. After Marcia and Letty retire, the four have little to do with each other until Marcia dies. When she leaves her house and its effects to Norman, the remaining three come together in an effort to help Norman settle the estate. They come to a better understanding of their relationship to each other and form a kind of community in Marcia's memory. In a world that forces them to be isolated because it has no place for them, Edwin, Norman and Letty make a place for themselves and give meaning to their lives when, perhaps, society will not. Perhaps because the social world does not hold much meaning for the characters of Quartet in Autumn, Annette Weld notes that unlike other Pym novels, Quartet in Autumn keeps descriptions of social gatherings to a minimum (184). In contrast, the novel focusses on aging and what Weld calls its horrors and isolation (185). Just as Pym keeps descriptions of social gatherings to a minimum in Quartet in Autumn, she keeps descriptions of meals to a minimum. Most of the characters eat sparingly from tins and prepared foods. Marcia Ivory eats less than everyone else, to the point where she starves herself to death. It is as if the narrator would have us believe that the elderly do not need much to eat. Ironically, Marcia eats less than any of the other characters, yet it is her use of food on which Pym focusses. Perhaps Marcia deliberately starves to express herself and to rebel against society. Gilbert and Gubar write in The Madwoman in the Attic that repressed female characters sometimes use hunger as a way to "escape" from their restrictive lives or surroundings (85). Yet, Marcia occasionally does share meals with others. For example, the meal the four share at Marcia's retirement party is, according to Jane Nardin in Barbara Pym, a step forward in their relationship (129). Nardin argues that for the four late middle- aged characters that the novel centers around, food is more seductive than sex (21). As Nardin says in, Pym's lavish descriptions of food and food preparation imply that food is a pleasure (20). Holiday meals like Christmas dinner, however, merely exacerbate the isolation the characters feel in Quartet. For example, Edwin's daughter lives so far away, that Christmas dinner at her house is a special occasion with people he barely knows. Yet, the narrator says, "Only Edwin would be spending Christmas in the traditional and accepted way in his role as father and grandfather. . . , though he would have preferred to spend the festival alone at home, with nor more than a quick drink with Father G. between services, to mark the secular aspect of the occasion" (QA 83). There is none of the camaraderie of a Dickensian Christmas dinner for Norman. He recites the rhyme "Christmas comes but once a year,/ And when it comes it brings good cheer . . ." with sarcasm because he realizes no one really wants his company (QA 83). As the narrator says, no one would argue with Norman for Christmas is a "difficult time for those who are no longer young and are without close relatives . . ." (QA 83). Norman is invited to spend Christmas with his brother-in-law, Ken, and his "lady friend," who would soon replace his dead sister's role of wife to Ken. Yet, there is little charity in the invitation other than that Ken and his friend realize Norman "has nobody," and they "allow" Norman to visit them from time to time (83). Yet, both Norman and Edwin regard Christmas dinner as more of a nuisance or necessity to be tolerated. It is Marcia and Letty who have the "real problem" with the loneliness of the celebration. As single, older women, their traditional role of holiday cook and hostess has been usurped. They have no home and tree to decorate, no family to gather at the hearth and bake cookies for. For the two women who "had no relatives they could spend Christmas with" the holiday had been for many years "an occasion to be got through as quickly as possible" (QA 84). Marcia, who gets vaguer and vaguer as the years pass, worries less and less about Christmas. When her mother was alive, the two lone women had a "large bird than usual," a capon their butcher recommended as suitable for two ladies dining alone (QA 84). Traditional society in the form of the male butcher even dictates how a widow and a spinster should celebrate holidays. Too big a turkey and too flamboyant a celebration won't do at all. When Marcia's mother died, Marcia marked Christmas quietly with Snowy, her cat, who filled her need for something to love. After the cat died, Marcia let Christmas merge into a haze of other days without noting it (QA 85). Marcia's neighbors, however, do not even respect her right to be alone on Christmas. The social worker, Janice, urges them to "do something" about Marcia, because society, while it ignores spinsters, feels it has a duty to force them to eat Christmas dinner with someone. They see Marcia as lonely and feel that "Christmas was the time for 'doing' something about old people or 'the aged'" (QA 85). Priscilla, the neighbor, is not even sure that Marcia is lonely, it is something she "hears" about older people, though her husband points out to her that though eccentric, Marcia is young enough and independent enough to work and to celebrate her own holiday (85). Marcia, however, disappoints them. She does not drink, nor does she eat a lot. Clearly, she does not fit their pattern of the grateful, elderly spinster enjoying a Christmas dinner provided by other's charity. Letty, however, might have welcomed Priscilla's invitation. She, of all the characters, regrets not having a family to spend Christmas with, and she is determined to "face Christmas with courage and a kind of deliberate boldness" to hold loneliness at bay (QA 85). She can no longer eat Christmas dinner with her friend Marjorie, because she has become engaged, and Letty would be an intruder. Also, Letty does not want people to pity her because they found out she had no invitation for Christmas dinner. Letty describes herself as a gooseberry who would be out of place, thereby describing herself as a particularly sour fruit known as the "woman's fruit" becomes only women would trouble to sweeten and cook it. At the end, Letty accepts a rough invitation from Mrs. Pope, her landlady, who spends the holiday discoursing on how people eat too much (86). The lonely Christmas Norman and the others spend is a far cry from celebrations in other novels, say An Unsuitable Attachment, where the characters visit each other and exchange gifts, and where Mark Ainger worries that the Father Christmas on his Yule cake is a bit shabby. Pym deliberately takes the romance out of Christmas in Quartet in Autumn, while a romance novelist would take a lonely character and give her a festivity filled Christmas that would lead to some kind of love connection. For example, publishers Signet Super Regency and Harlequin produce anthologies of Christmas romance stories each year entitled A Victorian Christmas (Signet) and Historical Christmas Stories (Harlequin). In "Kidnapped for Christmas" by Betina Krahn, a penniless but well-educated governess falls into the hands of a wealthy widower who gives her a fantastic Christmas and who later marries her (184). Almost all the stories involve poor and lonely but attractive women who are rescued by wealthy admirers, and who spend festive Christmases with them. By the end of the novel, it is not the traditional Christmas dinner which brings the remaining characters together. Instead, Marcia's death, and the fact that she leaves her house to Norman, forces them to gather and to share her horde of tinned food. The occasion seems more like a holiday for the three, because they find a bottle of sherry which they open. Marlene St. Miguel Groner writes in her dissertation The Novels of Barbara Pym that Norman's invitation to share the tinned food is sort of a breakthrough in their relationship. If, as Groner points out, Marcia has been hording the food as a replacement for something to love (Groner 57), then its sharing is a distribution of that love. Sharing among the heroes and heroines is not, however, apparent in their early dealings with each other. The two heroines of the novel are Letty Crowe and Marcia Ivory, whose last names invoke images of black and white. Letty is sort of an aging romance heroine who never had a "knight in shining armor." She is an "unashamed reader of novels" but realizes that her own life, that of an aging, unmarried woman, is of "no interest whatever to the writer of modern fiction" (QA 3). She no longer reads romantic novels, though because they no longer provide what she needed in them (3). Letty once read romances for the same reason the women Janice Radway surveys in Reading the Romance read them, for escape and entertainment (Radway 89). Some of Radway's women comment, for example, that they read romances because they are "light reading" and because "they always seem an escape and they usually turn out the way you wish life really was" (88). Perhaps reading romances enhances the identity of Radway's readers in some way. In The Novels of Barbara Pym, Groner writes that Letty's desire to be a character in a novel enhances her identity (56). For Example, Letty has romantic, almost Wordsworthian ideas about her own life and death when she visits Marjorie in the country. Like, perhaps, the Lady of Shallot, she imagines lying on the "autumn carpet of beech leaves" in the wood and wondering if it "could be the kind of place to like down in and prepare for death when life became to much to be endured" (QA 150). The image is romantic, yet morbid. Pym deflates it and makes it humorous by asking immediately after Letty's melancholy musings, "Had an old person--a pensioner, of course-- ever been found in such a situation? No doubt it would be difficult to lie undiscovered for long, for this wood was a favorite walking place for bustling women with dogs. It was not the kind of fancy she could indulge with Marjorie or even dwell on too much herself. Danger lay in that direction" (QA 150). Letty's fancies are dangerous, because they could lead to suicidal thoughts, but they are also "dangerous" in a comic vein, for the walking dogs could mistake her for hidden fire hydrant, or a leafy stump! Letty's imagination is not the only thing she has in common with romance heroines. She is also like them in the sense that she is independent. Just as Dulcie Mainwaring will not be shunted off to an apartment she does not want, Letty will not allow Marjorie to place her in an old ladies' home. Letty rebels against Marjorie, and society who, as discussed in Chapter Five, wishes to put away older spinsters. She feels indignant with Marjorie "for supposing that she would be content with this sort of existence when she herself was going to marry a handsome clergyman" (QA 151). Forty years ago, Letty might trail behind Marjorie, "but there was no need to follow that same pattern now" (151). Marcia, too, is independent and refuses to follow the pattern someone else designs for her. Yet, she shows vestiges of the romance heroine in her personality, too. Mason Cooley writes that there is an obscure thread of romance in Marcia's life which manifests itself in ambulance rides and new nighties for Mr. Strong to see (20). The young surgeon becomes for Marcia a hero, a sort of knight, who will save her from death, loneliness, and nosy social workers. His very name implies heroism and masculinity, and his handsome demeanor stirs Marcia's imagination. If Marcia were young and beautiful like a romance heroine, her eccentric personality would, as Janice Radway writes, be "tempered and undercut" by her extraordinary beauty" (124). Therefore, Amanda Quick can have a beautiful heroine who is also a nineteenth century paleontologist in Ravished, and Morgan Llewellyn can have a gorgeous heroine who is a pirate in Grania. Though Quartet in Autumn contains touches of romance, there are no weddings in the novel. The only proposed marriage, between Marjorie and David, never takes place. The lack of bridal ceremonies is rather a grim implication that there are no possibilities for people in late middle age to marry and lead full lives. Instead, three, not two characters, come together at the end of the novel in what Annette Weld in Barbara Pym describes as a kind of anti-wedding feast. There are romantic associations, however, for Marcia is linked with the Queen of Sheba because the sherry she owned was made from grapes that grew in vineyards that allegedly belonged to the Queen of Sheba (QA 216). While Pym de-emphasizes romance in Quartet in Autumn, she resurrects it as a point of emphasis in her last novel, A Few Green Leaves. A Few Green Leaves is the story of Emma Hovick, an anthropologist in her early thirties who comes to a small English village to do research on its unwitting inhabitants. As with Pym's other single women, Emma is on her own, somewhat dowdy in appearance, and a keen observer. She, like Mildred Lathbury and Dulcie Mainwaring, has "loved and lost," but her ex-lover, Graham Pettifer, comes back into her life after she views him on a television program. At the same time, Emma strikes up an acquaintance with Tom Dagnall, the local vicar who is a widower. Precisely because Emma remains "incognito," the other inhabitants of the village are curious about her. They wonder why she does not leave for work each day, why she dresses as she does, what friends and acquaintances she may have in other villages. Yet, Emma, the ultimate observer, also wonders about them, and begins classifying her neighbors almost before the pictures are hung on her new walls. Among the customs Emma observes is the flower arranging done for the church. One type of flower arranging involves a trick of extending the life of a floral arrangement by adding a few green leaves. Hence, Pym takes the title for her final novel not from a literary quotation, but from an ordinary household hint. Household hints notwithstanding, however, romance is a key element in A Few Green Leaves. Robert Cotsell says in Barbara Pym, "For Pym, novel writing always has a relation to the continuity of romance in life. In this, her last novel, she reaffirms this central tenet . . ." (138). Once again, food plays center stage in a Pym novel. Actually, other novelists use Pym's techniques, though perhaps not in such a mouth-watering manner. For example, George Bauer asserts in his study of Roland Barthes' work, "Eating Out: With Barthes," that Barthes states flatly that all novels could be classified according to "the frankness of their alimentary allusion" (39).For example, in his version of Plato's Criton which details the death of Socrates, Barthes centers the action on whether or not Socrates will eat a fig (41-42). (The friends of Socrates have attempted to take him to a place where fig trees flourish and are a staple of the diet (41).) There are similarities between Barthes' observations and Pym's work; for example, the question of whether or not to eat becomes a vital issue for Marcia Ivory in Quartet in Autumn. In A Few Green Leaves, the issue is similar for Magdalen Raven, though it is more centered on whether she would eat what she wanted in defiance of Dr. Shrubsole, her son-in-law, or whether she should give in to him. As in Pym's other books, characters are often categorized by what they eat, and food may serve as a means of expression as well. In this novel, however, food becomes a way for people to control each other. The most obvious example is young Dr. Shrubsole, who takes over his mother-in-law's diet to "preserve" her. Pym opens the novel with a panorama of the types of Sunday suppers people might serve each other in order to introduce the various ways she will represent food in the novel. Emma considers what people will eat for Sunday dinner as part of her study. She muses that Sunday supper would of course be lighter than the normal daily meal, with husbands coming back from work. Emma thinks that the shepherd's pie, concocted from the remains of the Sunday joint, would turn up as a kind of moussaka at the rectory because the vicar's sister, Daphne, is very fond of Greece (FGL 9). Emma speculates that some village inhabitants will have meals ready-prepared from freezers or "supper dishes at the supermarket with tempting titles and bright attractive pictures on the cover (FGL 9). Some citizens will have fish sold from the back of a van "suggesting a nobler time when fish had been eaten on Fridays . . . " (FGL 10). Others, like Emma, prefer a simpler meal, a bit of cheese or a small tin. Emma finally decides that, since she is a lone woman, her dinner "would have to ba an omelette, the kind of thing that every woman is supposed to turn her hand to . . ." Lone women, she reasons, are not to be fussy like lone men. For example, her neighbor, Adam Prince, is very fussy about food; he even makes a career of it as a gourmet food inspector (FGL 10). Yet, Emma manages to express herself through the generic omelette. Because she is not really "every woman," there is something different about her omelette (10). Emma is also different from other women, say Mildred Lathbury of Excellent Women, because she drinks red wine and other alcoholic beverages with her meals, though she suspects men like Adam Prince, the gourmet critic, wouldn't approve. Emma, though, does not care about approval, male or otherwise. She feels relaxed and at peace with her wine and often uses her leisure time to enjoy food and to watch T.V. While dining alone for some women represents their failure at building a successful family; dining alone for Emma is a time to relax and enjoy herself. Ironically, some of the men in the novel cannot enjoy themselves when it comes to food. For example, Dr. Shrubsole distrusts fattening foods and Adam Prince distrusts rich sauces, garnishings and attractive pottery. Prince critiques elaborate food because he feels its garnishings may hide mediocre cooking. Actually, he has a point; spices and rich sauces were originally created to hide the taste of meat that was spoiling. Michelle Berriedale-Johnson gives recipes for these types of potted meats in The Victorian Cookbook. Still, there is something interesting in the way Prince critiques food; he critiques food as other men criticize women's clothing. Like the male fashion designer who forms women's taste for them, Prince knows all the nuances of cooking. For example, he knows the proper butter to go with spaghetti, what beverage to have with each meal, and what wine the clergy use in their rituals (FGL 27). In a way, food is Prince's discourse, which he uses to express himself. Daphne Dagnall also uses food to express her love of Greece. She often incorporates Greek cooking into her own meals. For lunch, she concocts a Greek version of a "ploughman's lunch," which consists of a "hunk of stale bread, a few small hard black olives, the larger juicier kind being unobtainable . . . and something approaching a goats'-milk cheese. No butter, of course, such a decadent refinement didn't go with an attic luncheon" (FGL 29). Clearly, in this small meal, she has captured the history of an entire nation. At one point, Daphne ritualizes her meals. She forms leftover crust from a very English gooseberry tart into miniature female figures that remind her of Cycladic idols she saw in Athens (FGL 136). Also, her hellenicized meals represent Daphne's dissatisfaction with life in England; her meals imitate the kind of life in Greece she really wants. Daphne's brother, on the other hand, is in love with all things Medieval and Jacobean. So, when he spies Emma holding a bland, pudding-like dish, he immediately thinks she is holding a blanc mange, an ancient dish mentioned in the Canterbury Tales and popular in the seventeenth century (FGL 29-30). In reality, Emma is holding a ham mousse. The ham mousse, however, is not for Tom. Emma is really expecting Graham Pettifer and his wife, Claudia, to come to lunch. What Emma expects to be a boring and maybe uncomfortable meal of fashionably cold food and salad turns out to be a potentially "dangerous liaison" for Graham comes to lunch alone and informs Emma that he and Claudia are breaking up (FGL 32-33). Emma feels controlled by the situation once she realizes that she will be alone with Graham. Yet, other characters use food to control events and other characters. Dr. Shrubsole uses food to control the life of his mother-in-law, Magdalen Raven. For example, he forces her to substitute saccharine for sugar, forbids her butter, and has his wife serve fresh fruit instead of puddings and cakes for dessert. Dr. Shrubsole ostensibly takes over Magdalen's diet because he is concerned about her health, but he really wants the power of life and death over her. He speculates that " . . If Avice's mother were not so well . . . preserved, if she were allowed all the white bread, sugar, butter, cakes and puddings that her naturally depraved taste craved . . if she were to drop down dead, the Shrubsoles would have enough money to buy a larger house" (FGL 52-52). Shrubsole believes that he can regulate personally how long Magdalen lives by controlling the food she eats; when he tires of her, as he is beginning to, he can change her diet and be rid of her. Not having sugar is more of a deprivation than Magdalen may realize. She insists on having sweetener because even during World War II, she was not without sweetener for her coffee (FGL 53), but sugar, or dessert itself is a sign of being part of the privileged class. Irma S. Rombauer writes in The Joy of Cooking that desserts allow the hostess "to build a focal point for a buffet, produce a startling souffle or confect an attractively garnished individual plate" (684). Moreover, examples of all kinds of elaborate desserts are shown in Christmas issues of magazines like Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart's Living. Thus, desserts are a chance to show one's creativity, to put a civilizing finishing touch to a meal that has already been civilized by cooking. The point Pym illustrates by the illustration of Magdalen and her sugar may indicate that food and drink compensate for not having something to love. For example, Tom thinks Daphne has been drinking Sherry to make up for not having a dog. Magdalen only has memories of "sweeter times" during the war, perhaps when her husband was alive. In this instance, food takes on sexual connotations. Adam Prince, the gourmet critic, is another person who substitutes food for sex. In fact, when he brings red wine to the "bring and buy sale," Miss Lee nearly embraces the bottle and is embarrassed, as are many of the other women present. It is as if Adam has introduced a sexual element by introducing the red wine. If food serves as kind of code for sex, then it may also be an indicator of compatibility between men and women. For example, Tom and Emma find they first have something in common when they discuss the making of jam. For Emma, the preparation of food is still an art, and she picks her own blackberries and is ashamed to serve canned rice pudding (169). Her thinking is similar to Tom's; he often laments the use of substitute, artificial materials for clothing. In fact, substitutes for food and quick preparation exist throughout the novel. For example, saccharine is substituted for sugar, margarine for butter, frozen food for fresh (Rossen World of Barbara Pym 169). Emma tends to classify people in A Few Green Leaves by what they wear as well as what they eat. Clothes, for example, illustrate and emphasize the generation gap apparent in the village. Young people wear jeans, the older villagers never do (FGL 6). Some of the villages wear smarter, and brighter, clothing than the rector and his group (6). In another example, Graham Pettifer pronounces Emma as thin, dowdy and bony, saying she has "pitifully little 'bosom wise'" (FGL 34). Furthermore, the young academic wife, Tamsin Barraclough, is classified as the type who is able to wear Laura Ashley dresses and jumble sale clothes and get away with it (FGL 39). Robert Cotsell notes in Barbara Pym that clothes are no longer a symbol of charity in a Pym novel, the poor "wouldn't look at cast-offs" as Daphne observes (FGL 47). Clothes can also symbolize changes in tradition and ritual. At the jumble sale, people bring offerings to the rectory as if they were offerings to the church itself. They give their items almost reverently, in a hushed way to Daphne, who, with her Greek name appears to be a sort of oracle, who critiques the quality of the clothes like a goddess of fashion. For example, Adam's good suit is hung on a hanger for all to see. His "bad boy" jeans are hidden away because they are deemed unsuitable (FGL 42). The doctor's tweed coat is almost revered because it is implied it has "magical properties" (43). Emma, in a sort of defiance, brings clean but well-worn underwear and displays it though she is embarrassed (47). In another sense, clothes, and the materials from which they are made, become historical artifacts. Tom Dagnall, who is fascinated with Medieval and Jacobean history, reads about people being buried in wool during the month of August, 1678 (FGL 21). Pym makes the Tom's observation humorous because in the same passage, Tom remembers that Miss Lickerish buries one of her hedgehogs in a woolen jumper (FGL 21). As in Excellent Women and her other books, Pym, through this example, points out that once solemn rituals have been reduced to meaningless ceremonies or humorous anecdotes. Instead of noble Jacobean subjects being interred in wool, hedgehogs are laid to rest in it. Tom also feels humanity has lost some of its solemn dignity and has estranged itself from nature by wearing artificial fibers like polyester. For the physicians in the novel, clothes are a panacea for the ills that plague their female patients. When Daphne consults with Shrubsole, he tells her to wear more clothes, and inquires about woolen underwear (16). His prescription is a variation of the "go and by yourself a pretty new hat mentality." In fact, his superior, old Dr. G., actually tells a depressed woman to buy a new hat (FGL 16-17). For Dr. G., women are clotheshorses, depressed when they are empty. Pym saves the hat prescription from becoming a cliche by having young Dr. Shrubsole observe in a deadpan manner that women hadn't worn hats in years (FGL 17). Shrubsole cannot understand that Daphne, who loves the warm Aegean climate, does not feel comfortable in the cold, damp English climate. He also does not understand that a woman may want a home of her own. To Shrubsole, two unmarried women making a home together suggests some sort of frustrated lesbianism (FGL 17). Yet, regardless of the nature of their relationship, unmarried women who live together are not always happy in Pym's novels. For example, Miss Grundy has a roommate who tends to bully her around. She is also sort of a prototype of what may happen to Emma. She is a romance author who has not been able to enjoy romance in her own life. The narrator calls miss Grundy the reputed author of a romantic historical novel. Pym makes her a subject of humor, for when she stumbles on a rocky path, she finds herself in the "kind of situation that might have provided a fruitful plot; but it was not the son of the house who came to her assistance or a handsome stranger but Emma . . ." (FGL 56). If this were Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or another romance, a handsome hero would have helped Miss Grundy. Then, if it were a romance, Miss Grundy would have a romantic first name and would be young and beguilingly helpless, as the young Cathy is at the opening of Wuthering Heights when she is attacked by a dog and saved by her future husband. Rossen suggest in The World of Barbara Pym that Miss Grundy may have abandoned writing romance because the "failure of life to imitate art might have proved to disappointing for her to be able to keep writing romances" (160). Janice Radway in Reading the Romance would take issue with the idea that romance writers write in an attempt to create romantic scripts for themselves, but at least one real romance writer attempts to live out her novels, or to imitate her own life when she writes. Danielle Steel lives a fairytale, romance filled world and has carefully constructed an image for herself as a romance heroine. Moreover, she borrows heavily from her own life when she writes the plots for her stories. In any case, romance is hopeless for many Pym women, and various female characters in A Few Green Leaves are left alone like Miss Grundy is. For example, Miss Vereker, the former governess, is the last of Pym's Jane Eyre characters, but unlike some of the others, she does not find a Rochester (Rossen, WBP 161). Robert Cotsell says Emma's name links her to Miss Vereker and that Miss Vereker is a representative of the "neglected single woman of the late nineteenth century novels to which Emma is connected by name, if nothing else" (134). Finally, Emma's friend Ianthe Potts who is a museum worker is, according to Janice Rossen,"doomed to a life of loneliness; the man she loves turns out to be homosexual" (161). Emma, however, does not have the luxury of fainting and being rescued by anyone, son of the manor or otherwise. She is too independent to fall for cliches, and is therefore judged more harshly by society in everything including her appearance. For example, the narrator says that Emma "is the type that the women's magazines used to make a feature of 'improving' . . . " (FGL 1). Annette Weld describes Emma in Barbara Pym as a "not too young woman uneasy with her present situation" (196). Though it is the 1970's, not the 1950's, women's magazines still have influence over how women view themselves. Janice Rossen has observed about the "makeover" idea in The World of Barbara Pym that Emma suffers because she does not make the most of her appearance to attract a man (163). Rossen argues that this is a common failing of Pym's academic women. As if to prove Rossen's point, Tom is actually repulsed by one of Emma's drabber dresses. Rossen, however, writes that Emma's often non-descript clothes do not illustrate that she is at fault for not caring, but that life is difficult (163). Others, like Graham Pettifer see her as pathetically thin and dowdy, but Tom Dagnall sees Emma "only as a sensible person in her thirties, dark-haired, thin and possibly capable of talking intelligently about local history . . ." (1). Therefore, it is Emma's intelligence that attracts Tom, because he is passionately interested in local history and would love to have someone to discuss it with. Tom is a Pym male, however, and thus can't help but see Emma for her useful potential to him. He imagines she might be able to help in his parish as a typist, but is more considerate than other Pym men because he realizes he would be asking an educated woman to do menial work (FGL 7). Daphne Dagnall is not so kind; she scorns Emma's research and wonders "if you can call it work" (FGL 25). In fact, Emma, an anthropologist, is there to observe the other inhabitants of the village, just as they observe her. She, too, is a Pym "artist observer, who observes her fellow citizen in time-honored manner behind the shadow of her curtains (FGL 1). One wants to know if the curtains are lace, for, if they are, Emma takes on some of the attributes of a romance heroine, who plans her discourse among the lacy, but filmy and distortive world of romance. As Janice Rossen writes in The World of Barbara Pym, Emma is a heroine who has not achieved much distinction, partly because she is over thirty and unmarried. In fact, Emma is one of a series of women in the novel who represents the various stages of spinsterhood (159). Emma's name links her with the world of romance and with Jane Austen; yet she aligns herself not with Austen but with Hardy's first wife, "a person with something unsatisfactory about her" (FGL 9). Therefore, if Emma places herself in the plot of a romance at all, she chooses not the role of the heroine, but of the rival woman. Gorsky describes the demon and rival woman in her essay "The Gentle Doubters: Images of Women in Englishwomen's Novels, 1840-1920." One of the demon's most important personality traits is that she consciously tries to achieve something (46). she may even resort to tricks or crime to achieve her goals (46). Emma does have a goal: she wants to conduct secret research in the village for a study. Still, like many a romance heroine, Emma lives in an old cottage like the ones that appear in the eighteenth and nineteenth century novels her mother teaches. She speculates her mother named her Emma so that "some of the qualities of the heroine of the novel might be perpetuated." (FGL 8). The narrator tells us that she was not named Emily because her mother feared she would be associated with her grandmother's servants and not with the author of Wuthering Heights. If A Few Green Leaves' heroine is not associated with Cathy of Wuthering Heights, the novel's heroes are not associated with Heathcliff, either. In fact, there is hardly anything Byronic or splendid about the two men who are interested in Emma, Tom Dagnall and Graham Pettifer. Pym does her best to deflate their romantic importance or to make them look silly. For example, Emma thinks of Dr. Graham Pettifer, "To say he had been her 'lover' was to altogether too grand a way to describe what their association had been . . . " (FGL 11). Furthermore, Graham lacks Heathcliff's dark good looks; in fact, he must not have been that handsome when he was younger because when Emma sees him on television, she notes that he had improved in looks by filling out or something (FGL 12). Janice Rossen compares Graham to Rocky Napier of Excellent Women, but says that he lacks Rocky's charm; still, like Rocky, Graham will use the women in his life and he accepts a "constant offering of food" as his due from Emma (164). Besides the fact that he is an opportunist who constantly accepts food from Emma, Graham is also somewhat cold sexually; he doesn't visit Emma because he has feelings of romantic nostalgia. Instead, he looks her up because he expects her to be amusing for him. In fact, "Their meeting had not been the kind of amusing romantic encounter he had imagined. . . " (FGL 170). Though handsome, Graham is easily bored and becomes petulant. Pym undercuts Graham as a romantic hero by giving him an all too human childish personality. Pym also subverts setting to undermine romance in A Few Green Leaves. When Emma and Graham take a walk through the Sangreal Copse, the pair encounters an ugly little cluster of bungalows and a foul smelling but abandoned chicken coop. Emma sadly comments, "So much for my romantic ideas about Sangreal Copse" (172). Pym is not the only author to give her heroes childish or unusual traits, though. Many romance authors make their heroes different from other men or vulnerable in some way. For example, Anne Rice's Ramses from The Mummy is an immortal man who suffers from loneliness. Heroes in Rice novels that contain elements of romance often have so-called feminine qualities or like to collect antique dolls and Christmas ornaments. Yet, Rice and other writers only paint their heroes this way to endear them to their female readers. They give them traits and interests that their female readers may want for themselves. Pym, however, undermines her male characters' roles as romance heroes my making them look ridiculous. Even gentle Tom Dagnall is not spared in A Few Green Leaves. Though Tom is tall and "austerely good-looking," he is not that attractive (FGL 1). For one thing, though he is a widower, he does not pursue single women. For another thing, he is more interested in historical trivia like what types of materials were used for seventeenth century shrouds. Therefore, Tom's discourse is not of passion, but of musty books and grave clothes. His eyes are brown, like those of many a romance hero, but they are not warm and endearing; they lack the "dog-like qualities" often associated with that color which implicitly attract a woman's sympathy. The days when the local vicar was a good catch for a romance heroine are gone. So Tom, displaced in importance by the local doctors, muddles on alone. If she views heroes with some ambivalence in A Few Green Leaves, Pym views marriage with ambivalence in this novel as well. Janice Rossen correctly writes in The World of Barbara Pym that marriage in Pym's late 1970's seems to be more casual (157). For example, Beatrix, Emma's mother, wants her to marry, yet she herself does not set "all that much store by the status" (8). Beatrix continued to work as an academic throughout her short marriage, and when Emma's father was killed in the war, Beatrix felt comfortable resuming her life as a single woman. The narrator says that after his death, Beatrix felt she had "fulfilled herself as a woman" by marring and having Emma and she had been able to "return to her academic studies with a clear conscience" (8). On the other hand, Graham and Claudia give a more cynical view of marriage for they are about to be divorced (FGL 33-34). Yet, their status is unclear because they later reconcile. The Shrubsoles' marriage does not appear to be equal, either. For all that he loves to control others, Dr. Shrubsole is, in turn, dominated and controlled by Avice, his wife, who carries a cudgel when she walks. For Avice, marriage is a continual process in improving one's status and in symbolizing that improvement by obtaining bigger house. Her name is suspiciously close to "avarice." Still, the characters in A Few Green Leaves need something to love, just as they do in the other novels. For example, Daphne decides she could love a dog. (FGL 46). As Annette Weld notes, "Pym calls up a host of characters from earlier works for a final curtain call" (199). There is an obituary notice for Fabian Driver of Jane and Prudence and the death of Miss Clovis of Less than Angels is announced. Several elderly characters from Less Than Angels appear at her funeral. Pym finished the novel only two months before her death. Perhaps she realized it was her swan's song, and she wanted to tie-up her loose ends. In this last novel, Pym seems to leave the answer of whether a single woman can live a full or meaningful life of her own open. In hindsight, one wants to answer the question for Pym herself in the affirmative. She has left her readers a legacy of novels that are increasing in literary importance and in popularity, and she has answered the critics responsible for her years of silence. What the reader learns from reading Pym's work is that, for everyone, regardless of age and sex, there is always the possibility of change, for better or for worse.