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By Barbara Pym

Among the amorous old broker Humphrey and his handsome nephew James glides the fantastic Leonora, tender as porcelain, cool as ice. Can she continue James in her thrall? Or will he be taken from her by means of a lover, like Phoebe . . . or Ned, the depraved American?'A hugely precise and - eventually - charitable novel' monetary Times'Faultless' Guardian'Her Characters are all meticulously impaled at the soft pins of a wit that's as scrupulous because it is lethal' Observer'A coldly humorous ebook' Sunday Telegraph'Highly specific . . . the critics who've lately insisted on omit Pym's too lengthy missed presents haven't been unsuitable' monetary occasions

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Leonora used to be afraid her answer sounded too mild and insincere, yet what may possibly one say? They drove with out talking for it slow till James started to ask her how top to get to her apartment. after they reached it he bought out of the auto and went around to open the door for her. ‘Would you're keen on to return in and feature a drink? ’ Leonora requested in a funky, virtually detached tone. James hesitated. was once she simply being well mannered? he puzzled. And did he actually need to? He used to be curious to work out the interior of her condominium and he may fake a later engagement if it appeared tough to break out. ‘I anticipate you’re going out,’ Leonora acknowledged. ‘No, I’d like to. I basically proposal it would be a bore for you. ’ ‘My pricey James,’ she addressed him by means of his identify for the 1st time, ‘would i've got requested you if I’d inspiration that? ’ There might be no solution to this so he her into the sitting room. It used to be prettily offered with small early Victorian items and china and glass gadgets of an identical interval. James spotted that the flower ebook she had obtained on the sale used to be displayed on a bit desk. ‘I open it at a distinct web page each day,’ Leonora stated. ‘It relatively is so captivating. I can’t have in mind now what I selected for this present day. ’ ‘Pink convolvulus,’ stated James, taking a look down on the ebook. ‘And that indicates’ – Leonora got here to his aspect and made as though to learn, notwithstanding she knew that she couldn’t with out her glasses. ‘Worth sustained by way of smooth and really apt Affection,’ James learn in a marginally mocking tone, for he used to be unsure what it intended. ‘Let’s have a drink,’ acknowledged Leonora, going to a nook cabinet and bringing out a decanter and glasses. ‘You evidently like Victorian issues – Victoriana, i guess I should still say. ’ ‘Yes, i am keen on them. someway i believe they’re me. ’ James checked out Leonora with extra curiosity. She used to be donning a smooth prune-coloured costume which proper her light complexion and darkish, well-arranged hair. within the extra flattering mild of the switched over oil lamps she appeared more youthful than within the sunlight, or if now not precisely younger, then of no specific age. ‘I imagine Victoriana do go well with you,’ he acknowledged, ‘you glance precisely correct in that chair. ’ Leonora bowed her head in acknowledgement of the tribute, for she used to be used to receiving compliments gracefully. ‘I imagine you belong to a couple prior period,’ she mused. ‘Perhaps the eighteenth century? you may think a portrait of you leaning opposed to a ruined pillar. ’ ‘I wouldn’t know,’ stated James, feeling a bit silly now and wishing he hadn’t paid her that particularly foolish praise. ‘You don’t examine all like your uncle. ’ ‘No, I take after my mother’s aspect. ’ ‘Golden-brown hair and darkish eyes – fairly strange. ’ ‘My mom used to be American. ’ ‘Really? Do inform me approximately her. ’ Leonora expressed what appeared to be a real curiosity, yet James used to be embarrassed on the manner the dialog was once going. Sympathetic as she used to be, even he was once perceptive adequate to gain that Leonora might hardly ever are looking to spend the night conversing approximately his mom. And now, virtually as though she learn his innovations, Leonora lightly replaced the topic with no seeming to and whilst she urged that he may be hungry he discovered himself agreeing that he used to be.

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