A Glass of Blessings marks yet another Barbara Pym novel that I completely loved, which will come as no surprise to anyone who's been following along as I've gradually been reading all of her works over the past year.
This time our heroine is Wilmet Forsyth, who is something of a departure from the "excellent women" that Pym often writes about. While those characters are typically middle-aged spinsters, sometimes a bit dowdy in appearance, often overlooked or taken for granted by their circle of friends,Wilmet is a married, well-off woman in her early-thirties who is always stylishly dressed and sure to be included in any local social event. Married to a civil servant who doesn't want her to work, Wilmet fills up her days by allowing herself to be carried along on a wave of neighborhood gossip, afternoon teas, and church activities, although she's half-hearted about these things. Even while she holds herself apart as an observer, offering herself a silent wry commentary about what everyone else is doing, she seems to wish she was able to dive into the center of it all. She soon finds a pleasant distraction, though, when she begins to suspect that she has more than one male admirer on her hands.
I found Wilmet to be such a likable heroine. She's self-centered in a way that's relatable, not selfish, and by the end of the novel she comes to realize that many of the motives she ascribed to her friends and neighbors were actually projections of her own feelings. Yet in her true fashion, Pym ends Wilmet's story by showing that even these kinds of imagined projections can have meaningful real-life ramifications. With its chic, intelligent protagonist and its interesting, diverse cast of supporting characters, A Glass of Blessings brings a slightly more modern feel to the timeless themes that Pym typically covers...and, of course, gets a high recommendation from me.