Books: Notable

QUARTET IN AUTUMN by Barbara Pym Dutton; 218 pages; $7.95

Four faceless London clerks, nearly invisible even to their employers, share an office. So vague is their work that even they are not sure exactly what it is they do. Only one thing is certain: they are about to retire, a prelude to dispiriting old age. Barbara Pym, in her first novel in 16 years, indelibly sketches this Quartet in Autumn, whose lives, spent in bedsitting rooms or empty homes, are marked with small regrets and smaller pleasures.

Letty, occasionally wondering why romance...

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