Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Jane Howard

Sunny today, but colder.  We did have a violent rainstorm yesterday, but the Captain was able to get out in the afternoon with his camera.  The floodwaters are receding.

An Oz facebook friend has just told me that he has read "Some Tame Gazelle" and really enjoyed its gentle humour.  He is now going to find "Four Quartets", also by Pym, and if he does, I would love to hear what he thinks.  Marcia's descent into confusion is beautifully evoked - without sentimentality. She is not in the least a sweet little old lady.

Elizabeth Jane Howard has just died.  I meant to write to her and say how much I enjoyed her autobiography "SlipStream", but I didn't.  Its well written, of course, and an interesting glimpse into the (rather depressing) lives of the rich and famous.  It also shows how much damage is done by childhood abuse. She is very kind and understanding towards her father in the book - she only touches briefly on what happened.   Her father was wonderful to her when she was a child, and gave her the love and approval she did not get from her mother, but the moment she became an adolescent, he changed in a shocking way.  Its clear from the rest of her life what damage it did.

I also wanted to write to her about this. When talking of a friend who was kind and helpful to her after she left Kingsley Amis, Elizabeth Jane Howard notes, approvingly I think, that the friend in question (Ursula) says that if the meek are to inherit the earth, she is leaving it.

So of course I wanted to tell her that the Bible is not referring to meekness as a character trait - though I'm not sure why she was so against it - but to  those who are meek towards their Creator.  The meek are those who will listen and obey.  And people of all kinds and temperaments do listen, and are listening.  And many people who are meek under the Ursula definition are not at all meek towards God's inspired word.

I am just re-reading Martin Amis "Experience", as the implosion of the Howard Amis marriage was part of his story too.    Clearly they created a wonderful life at Lemmons, for a while.

I hope both Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Jane Howard will wake up when the time comes.  Will they write more wonderful books if so?   And what would their subject matter be?  At the moment we only have one subject really. Things go wrong and have to be put right.  

What we might write about then we can't imagine now.  Lets just hope we all "inherit the earth" and find out.

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