Tea or Books? #10: Reading Resolutions, yes or no? and Barbara Pym vs Elizabeth Taylor


Tea or Books logo‘Tea or Books?’ is back for the new year – and it starts pretty shambolically, as we can’t remember the episode number. Once that is sorted out, we discuss whether or not we set New Year’s Reading Resolutions, and then debate the relative merits of beloved authors Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. It’s definitely one of those times that I’m delighted that I can keep both authors on my shelves, but it’s fun to challenge ourselves with the prospect of having to lose one of them.

As always, we’re very keen to hear what you think – and any topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes. We’re so thrilled to be back for our second year (more or less)! Here, as usual, are the books we discuss in this episode… Download via your podcast app of choice, or at our iTunes page.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Curiosity by Alberto Manguel
A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel
The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
The Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman
A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
At Mrs Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
A Very Private Eye by Barbara Pym
An Academic Question by Barbara Pym

9 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #10: Reading Resolutions, yes or no? and Barbara Pym vs Elizabeth Taylor

  • January 19, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Ha! At the rather muggy municipal poolside with the moppets, listening to this podcast… Nearly fell in with surprise at hearing my name and delight that two of my most esteemed book buddies have Towers of Trebizond in contemplation! Can you hear me purring all the way from Adelaide? Alas I haven’t specially enjoyed any of her other novels. Towers is a bit like Cold Comfort Farm in that respect. M x

    • January 19, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Aw, that’s lovely Merenia! And so quick off the mark. What a shame you haven’t enjoyed the other Macaulay novels – which have you tried? I’ve read a dud or two, but Crewe Train and Keeping Up Appearances were brilliant, I thought.

  • January 19, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Just listened to this — as fab and silly and of course deeply profound as usual. I so agree with Rachel about Barbara Pym — I try to avoid reading her in public places because I’m prone to bursting out laughing. But I have read the relatively new biography and I have to tell you it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. A complete mess in every way. A shame — someone really should write a better one.

    • January 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks so much Harriet! Silly and profound is certainly what we’re aiming for. What a shame about the biography – especially since it might discourage anybody writing another for a while.

  • January 19, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    Reading resolutions are fun, but usually pointless as I never stick to them! Mind you, I have books I’ve had on my shelves for 30 years (eek!) and I do eventually get round to them! I hope you read and enjoy Colette – I would join Dark Puss in nagging you to read her!

  • January 19, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you for the “shout out” re my enthusiasm for Colette. I cannot now remember which ones you have but If you have either “The Cat” or “Ripening Seed” then I would strongly suggest you start with one of those.

    It is important to enjoy Colette, she is a very sensual writer and a very unsentimental one too. Be open to falling in love with her men , her women, her food, her sense of place or leave her on the shelf unread. You won’t like many of her characters, but that’s just a sign of a good writer in my opinion – you will care about them (you might care enough to hate some of them) though.


  • January 20, 2016 at 3:59 am

    The Sweet Dove Died was published in 1978 but she started writing it in 1963. It was one of the two books she wrote in the 1960s that her publisher decided not to publish despite the success of her earlier works. Pym is one writer who has some really weird gaps between when she wrote books and when they were published. If you look at the list below you can see some of the weirdness. If it hadn’t been for Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil naming her as one of the most underrated authors in 1977 many of her books probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

    Some Tame Gazelle (Written 1935-50 / first published UK 1950 / first published US 1983)
    Civil to Strangers (1936-8 / 1987 / 1987)
    Crampton Hodnet (1937-8 / 1987 / 1987)
    Excellent Women (1949-51 / 1952 / 1978)
    Jane and Prudence (1950-2 / 1953 / 1981)
    Less Than Angels (1953-4 / 1955 / 1980)
    A Glass of Blessing (1955-6 / 1958 / 1980)
    No Fond Return of Love (1957-60 / 1961 / 1982)
    An Unsuitable Attachment (1960-5 / 1982 / 1982)
    The Sweet Dove Died (1963-9 / 1978 / 1979)
    An Academic Question (1970-1 / 1986 / 1986)
    Quartet in Autumn (1973-6 / 1977 / 1978)
    A Few Green Leaves (1977-9 / 1980 / 1980

  • January 21, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Such an excellent podcast episode! You are in top form. Listening on my morning walk through our spectacular local park, I just wanted to turn back and read, especially the Taylor work, as yet a closed book, unlike the Pym whose novels are great favourites
    Hazel Holt wrote a bio?

  • January 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Happy New Year (I can still say that, right?)! Are you planning to organize a 1924 Club event again this year (maybe with a different year)?


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