Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those excellent women - the smart, supportive, repressed women whom men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors - anthropologist Helena Napier; Helen's handsome, dashing husband, Rocky; and Julian Malory, the vicar next door - the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived.
"Still Waters Run Deep"
Less Than Angels follows the loves, works and hopes of a group of young anthropologists. Catherine Oliphant is a writer and lives with handsome anthropologist Tom Mallow. Their relationship runs into trouble when he begins a romance with student Deirdre Swann, so Catherine turns her attention to the reclusive anthropologist Alaric Lydgate, who has a fondness for wearing African masks. Added to this love triangle are the activities of Deirdre's fellow students and their attempts to win the competition for a research grant.
Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks.
The setting of this very funny novel, one of Barbara Pym's earliest, is an English village where Jane's husband is the newly appointed vicar, and where Prudence will pay Jane a visit and find herself courted by a fatuous young widower.
"Understated hilarious comic writing"
It was odd that Harriet should always have been so fond of curates. They were so immature and always made the same kind of conversation. Now the Archdeacon was altogether different...'Together yet alone, the Misses Bede occupy the central crossroads of parish life. Harriet, plump, elegant and jolly, likes nothing better than to make a fuss of new curates, secure in the knowledge that elderly Italian Count Ricardo Bianco will propose to her yet again this year.
Wilmet Forsyth is well dressed, well looked after, suitably husbanded, good looking, and fairly young - but very bored. Her husband Rodney, a handsome army major, is slightly balder and fatter than he once was. Wilmet would like to think she has changed rather less. Her interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-Catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the more serious-minded company of three unmarried priests and Piers Longridge, a man of a different character altogether.