Author: Barbara Pym
Details: (c) Hilary Walton 1986 (based on an original by Barbara Pym 1970-1972); Pub Grafton 1987; ISBN 0-586-07365-5
Verdict: An academic question is rather depressing.
Reasons for reading it: I found it on the shelf when I was looking for something else, and stumbled into reading it. Which was a bit silly as I have lots of other stuff I want to read more, but hey, it's short, so I've only wasted two short commutes and two tea breaks worth of reading time.
How it came into my hands: Can't honestly remember; I, or my parents, or possibly my other grandmother, picked it up from a charity shop at some point.
An academic question was cobbled together from unfinished drafts some years after Pym's death, so it's really a curiosity for obsessive fans. I sometimes like Pym; at her best, she can be very funny in a dark way. An academic question rarely rises above a sort of weary cynicism, though.
It's basically just another portrait of how conventional marriage can be a bum deal for women, even in 1970, with a bit of not terribly memorable satire of new university society thrown in. That said, it did draw me in to the point where I felt compelled to read it against my better judgement. Mainly, I think, because Pym has an eye for character. There are definitely lots of books out there with fewer redeeming features. The trouble is it's awfully down-beat; Caro's life is miserable in a banal and scarily plausible way, but that's not an uplifting thing to read about even in the way that horrific or tragic novels can be.
While I'm posting, I should mention that the new security measures for excluding possibly malicious CSS have broken my journal even worse than I was expecting. So for now I'm using cmshaw's very well written, but rather plain, Widelines style. And that will probably be the case for a while, because I have a million more urgent things to do at the moment than redesign my journal.