A Glass of Blessings

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A Glass of Blessings
First edition
Author Barbara Pym
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 255 pp

A Glass of Blessings is a novel by Barbara Pym, first published in 1958. The title is taken from the poem The Pulley by George Herbert.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The central character and narrator, Wilmet Forsyth, is a married woman with a comfortable though routine life. She does not need to work and enjoys a life of leisure. When not lunching or shopping she occupies her time, somewhat guiltily, with occasional "good works", particularly at the instigation of her slightly eccentric do-gooder mother-in-law. She becomes drawn into the social life of her church, St. Luke's. After a church service one day she renews her acquaintance with a close friend's attractive but ne'er-do-well brother, Piers Longridge. She develops a romantic interest in Piers, and begins to believe that he is her secret admirer. The admirer is in fact her close friend's husband. Wilmet fails to realise that Piers is gay until she becomes aware of his relationship with Keith, a lower-class young man.


The subject of homosexuality is not infrequent in Pym's work, but it is usually referred to in oblique and subtle ways. This novel is surprisingly frank about the subject, especially for a comedy of manners published in 1958. The reader can reach no conclusion other than that Piers and Keith live together in a romantic relationship.[2]

The British class structure, which was gradually fading out at the time the novel was published, is essential to the interactions between the characters, like Wilf Bason, who cooks for a house full of celibate priests. The heroine's lifestyle also appears outmoded to today's reader.[3]


  1. ^ Barbara Pym Society
  2. ^ Betty Smartt Carter, "Barbara Pym's Affectionate Irony", First Things, Nov 2006 Archived July 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Kate Macdonald (21 September 2015). "Interested onlookers at vestry rage in Barbara Pym's A Glass of Blessings". Kate Macdonald official website. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Orna Raz - Social Dimensions in the Novels of Barbara Pym, 1949-1962: the Writer as Hidden Observer (2007)