I defy you to figure out why British author Barbara Pym (1913-1980) is so darned good.

Pym seems to be writing about nothing much at all, and yet she is riveting. She casts some kind of spell. Examine her syllable by syllable. Take her writing apart; it’s far more than the sum of its parts. It’s precise, wry, impossibly delicious.

Is there Barbara Pym fanfiction? You bet your sweet tea cozy there is.

Most readers dive in with Excellent Women (1952), her best-known novel, but you can start anywhere. Crampton Hodnet is my personal favorite, although I can’t explain why. It was completed around 1940 and published posthumously in 1985.

A friend sitting across from you at dinner, called to play therapist for your trivial romantic hang-ups, has to pretend to herself that she wouldn’t rather just go home and get in bed to read Barbara Pym.

“The I in the Internet,” Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror

Barbara Pym is a personal passion of mine. I own the Barbara Pym cookbook but not the Pymnal.

Forgive me if I burst into song:

She’s got that slapdash salmon mayonnaise
She’s got those neighbors with their slovenly ways
She’s got that tea and plover eggs for days
She never goes out of style
Pym never goes out of style

She’s got those dirt cheap jumble sales that you like
She’s got those gentlewomen doing alright
She’s got that hot young vicar arriving tonight
She never goes out of style
Pym never goes out of style

with apologies to Taylor Swift for this parody