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By Barbara Pym

Set in St Basil’s, an undistinguished North London parish, An improper Attachment is certainly jam-packed with the excessive comedy for which Barbara Pym is famed.

There is Mark Ainger, the vicar, who introduces his sermons with feedback like ‘Those of you who're conversant in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.’ His spouse Sophia together with her cat, ‘I consider occasionally that I can’t achieve Faustina as I’ve reached different cats.’ Rupert Stonebird, anthropologist and eligible bachelor. The well-bred Ianthe Broome who works on the library and varieties an incorrect attachment with a tender guy there. The sharp-tongue Mervyn Cantrell, leader librarian, who complains that ‘when books have issues spilt on them it really is constantly bottled sauce or gravy of the thickest and such a lot repellent sort instead of anything completely beautiful and delicious.’ there's additionally Daisy Pettigrew, the vet’s sister, one other obsessional cat individual, and Sister Dew who bears a robust resemblance to Sister Blatt in very good Women.

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She rests her cheek on her own arm, hair spilling, drowsy, watching him. Can’t get a decent argument going with her. How he’s tried. She uses her silences like stroking hands to divert him and hush their corners of rooms, bedcovers, tabletops—accidental spaces. . Even at the cinema watching that awful Going My Way, the day they met, he saw every white straying of her ungauntleted hands, could feel in his skin each saccade of her olive, her amber, her coffee-colored eyes. He’s wasted gallons of paint thinner striking his faithful Zippo, its charred wick, virility giving way to thrift, rationed down to a little stub, the blue flame sparking about the edges in the dark, the many kinds of dark, just to see what’s happening with her face.

Oh, that I can deal with. But he’s so damned—such a bastard, he never sleeps, he plots—” “Not senility, no, I meant the position he’s working from. Pointsman? You don’t have the priorities he does quite yet, do you? You can’t take the chances he can. You’ve treated them that age, surely you know that strange . . smugness. . ” Pointsman’s own Fox waits, out in the city, a prize of war. In here the tiny office space is the cave of an oracle: steam drifting, sybilline cries arriving out of the darkness .

Knock over garbage, vomit on the floor, but not clean it up—how could anyone live with such a creature? “Octopi,” Spectro wheedles, “are docile under surgery. They can survive massive removals of brain tissue. Their unconditioned response to prey is very reliable—show them a crab, WHAM! out wiv the old tentacle, home to poisoning and supper. ” “Oh, but. No . . tanks, pumps, filtering, special food . . that may be fine up in Cambridge, that lot, but everyone here’s so damned tightfisted, it’s the damned Rundstedt offensive, has to be.

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