April Book Club: Quartet in Autumn

SarasaSarasa Shipmate
The April Book Club choice is Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym. There is a synopsis of the book here and you can find out more about Barbara Pym and her works
at this site.

I chose this book because it is about four people at a similar stage of life to me, retired or just about to, and set in a time and place 1970's London that I knew well.

I'll be posting up some questions about the 20th.

Comments

  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    That's the only Barbara Pym book I've never read. (Most of them I've read more than once.) Maybe I should give it a try now.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    That would be good @Pigwidgeon . I'm hoping we can have a general discussion about her other books in the run up to the 20th. I think it is interesting that her works were rejected for publication from the early 1960s to 1977, and it was only when she was mentioned twice in a Time Literary Supplement article as the most underrated novelist of the century that things changed.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I've already started, so I'm in.

    So far I'm not that struck, but I shall persevere!
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I'm going to join in. I watched 'Barbara Pym's Day Out' after watching some of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads series on Youtube and thought her books sounded interesting, but had not got around to reading any. Here's the link to 'Barbara Pym's Day Out'. It is about when Quartet in Autumn was nominated for the Booker Prize https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi8Zezov9RQ
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    A friend and I read this book years ago and we both very much enjoyed it. If I remember correctly, the characters do just what real people in their circumstances would do.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I've read another book by Barbara Pym - I think it was Jane and Prudence - and found it entertaining. I might read this one if it is in the library.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I've almost finished! It gets better as it goes along, I think.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I read it quite quickly and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to the discussion later in the month.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Good a few people have signed up. There is still time to join us, as it is a quickish read.
    In the mean time if you have read other Barbara Pym books do you have a favourite? I've read a couple, and intend to read more but I rather like A Glass of Blessings
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    "Some Tame Gazelle" was the first Barbara Pym book I read, and it remains my favorite. It was a Christmas gift from my sister many years ago -- it was her favorite as well, and she thought I'd enjoy it. (Like me, she also never read "A Quartet in Autumn," but did read just about every other one.)
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Book duly finished and I'm looking forward to the discussion.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I started reading it yesterday evening.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    As it happens I have just re-read it on holiday. Her masterpiece, but a tough work.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Glad a few more people are joining in. @Pigwidgeon I'll be putting Some Tame Gazelle on my to read list.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    I've just finished and enjoyed it.
    Looking forward to the discussion.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Finished it yesterday.
  • duettistsduettists Shipmate
    I have read all Barbara Pym's books and like them very much. I look forward to following the discussion about Quartet in Autumn.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    As a lot of people seem to have finished and I know I've got a busy day on the 20th, I'll post some questions up sometime tomorrow (the 18th). I've just finished a re-read and am looking forward to the discussion.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Righty-o here are some questions. Feel free to ignore some or all of these or add your own. I don't think there are any spoilers, but maybe don't read the questions if you haven't finished the book yet.

    1. The title is Quartet in Autumn. Are the main characters a 'quartet' or just four people thrown together by chance?

    2. Did you find the main characters believable? Did you think some were more successfully drawn than others?

    3. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it is set in a time and place I know well. If you knew 1970s London did it evoke memories. If you didn't can you imagine yourself there?

    4. At the end several of the characters are facing choices. Which ones do you think they will make?

    5. In the introduction to my copy by Alexander McCall Smith, he mentions the humour, and cites several episodes he thought particularly amusing. Were there any incidents that appealed to your sense of humour?

    6. Any comments on the church and its clergy as portrayed in the book?

    7. If you've not read any Pym before, will you be seeking out her other books? Famously she lost her publishing contract in the early sixties only to be rediscovered in the seventies. Do her works stand the test of time?


  • MiliMili Shipmate
    edited April 22
    Sarasa wrote: »

    1. The title is Quartet in Autumn. Are the main characters a 'quartet' or just four people thrown together by chance?

    I don't think any of the quartet would be friends if they hadn't met at work, and they seem more to have relationships of just colleagues until the two women retire. However they do have enough connection to stay in touch afterwards, which would not necessarily happen much today. These days most people move jobs and even careers a number of times and often do not keep in touch with retired colleagues unless they had formed a friendship or maybe only keep in touch through social media.

    2. Did you find the main characters believable? Did you think some were more successfully drawn than others?

    I found all the main characters believable, but Letty and Edwin had more of a backstory which helped explain their motivations. I would have liked to know more about Norman and Marcia's backstories. Especially if Marcia had changed personality over time, perhaps due to her illness, or if she had always been what would then have been though 'odd' or 'eccentric' and now might have people wondering if she was on the autism spectrum. Actually, Edwin possibly could be considered on the spectrum too due to how much he loves and knows about Anglican church services and his introversion. It would be interesting to know how a modern author (or Pym herself) would portray the characters these days. Being single and introverted myself, although with a much richer social and family life than the characters I could relate to some of their situations, particularly Letty's story.

    One thing I found interesting was how little the character's wartime experiences seemed to impact on their lives in the 1970s. These people lived through the Blitz yet have no worries about post traumatic stress or the possibility of WW III, except for Marcia - it may help explain her tin hoarding. Despite living through such dangerous times they are just as caught up in the small annoyances and everyday problems of life as those of us who have grown up in peacetime.

    3. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it is set in a time and place I know well. If you knew 1970s London did it evoke memories. If you didn't can you imagine yourself there?

    I wasn't born until 1979 so have no conscious memories of the 1970s and grew up in Melbourne, a much small city with nice weather :) . However I did live in London for a short time in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. London changed a lot, especially in regards to multiculturalism in that time, but I still enjoyed comparing the book's London to the one I remember. Nearly everyone I was/am friends with from London was either English but from somewhere else in England, from Wales, Scotland or Ireland, a born Londoner but with ethnic background from various places in the former British Empire or Europe, or from overseas and often living in London temporarily. I barely met anyone who was ethnically English and had roots in London. Most of the people I keep in touch with no longer live there. I loved London apart from the weather, pollution and winter darkness. My own ancestry is English, Scottish and Irish, but I don't think I have any connection to London historically. It's now (or was a decade and a half ago) just a place where anyone who likes living in a big, culturally diverse city can find a place.

    4. At the end several of the characters are facing choices. Which ones do you think they will make?

    I think Norman will sell the house he inherited from Marcia and find a place that better suits him. Letty will stay in London at least for the time being, but may move elsewhere later on. Perhaps back to the West of England now that she has realised she does not want to be in Marjorie's shadow.

    5. In the introduction to my copy by Alexander McCall Smith, he mentions the humour, and cites several episodes he thought particularly amusing. Were there any incidents that appealed to your sense of humour?

    No specific incidents have stuck in my mind, but the overall humour in the book makes it enjoyable and positive, despite the characters going through some difficult, even grim situations. The story could be very depressing if the humour and hope were left out.



    6. Any comments on the church and its clergy as portrayed in the book?

    The parts about the church, particularly Edwin's story line reminded me of a book from a series I liked as a child, but only understood better as an adult. 'The Church Mice at Bay' by Graham Oakley. The Church Mice series is about the many mice and a cat that live in a church. In this book a new hippy vicar comes to the church. The mice, cat and parishioners do not appreciate the changes he makes. Edwin would have hated him!


    7. If you've not read any Pym before, will you be seeking out her other books? Famously she lost her publishing contract in the early sixties only to be rediscovered in the seventies. Do her works stand the test of time?

    I'm already reading 'Jane and Prudence' and will probably read some others as well.


  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    Mili wrote: »
    Sarasa wrote: »


    One thing I found interesting was how little the character's wartime experiences seemed to impact on their lives in the 1970s. These people lived through the Blitz yet have no worries about post traumatic stress

    I think people often blocked out memories of WW2. My parents lived through it and referred to incidents, but when I asked my mother about it towards the end of her life she was reluctant to say anything adding "it was a funny time to grow up."

    As a child I remember her being scathing about Remembrance Sunday parades. Some coped with the memories by reliving and sentimentalising them and I suspect that is what she found distasteful.

    I will comment on Quartet later.

    Of the early books, Excellent Women and particularly A Glass of Blessings are far better than Jane and Prudence, in my opinion.

  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Was anyone else as bothered as I was by the very vague description of the office in which the members of the ‘quartet’ work? Its functions are apparently important enough that they have plenty to do, but when they retire none of them needs to be replaced; does this reflect the author’s personal lack of experience of office work, I wonder? Or is it just a useful donné in which to locate the characters, and we’re not supposed to ask anything about it?

    On the other hand she does know something about the church, especially when she packs Edwin off to gorgeous All Saints, Margaret Street; but even there's she’s disappointingly vague at times. And is the social worker who visits Marcia official, a volunteer, or what? Does Pym even know?

    The book’s been very well reviewed, but the old advice about ‘Write about what you know and know about what you write’ kept coming into my mind.

    None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, though!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I think that World War II faded fairly fast from people's mind's @Mili. As a teenager/twenty something in the 1970s it seemed like something that was a long time ago and not really anything to do with me. My parent's had lived through the war but had both been too young to fight. My dad never spoke about it and my mum's stories were/are mostly funny, the person stuck in the door of the air raid shelter for instance. As a child I never thought how scary that would have been. Her father, a Boar War/First World War veteran always refused to buy a poppy as he felt ex-servicemen needed more than charity.
    @Andras , Pym did work in an office, though as an editor her experience was probably different from the Quartet's. I imagine that they are spending a load of time filing and other routine jobs soon to be taken over by computers. Letty says something about them only having worked together for a couple of years. I wonder if they were shunted off there by a benevolent organisation that didn't want to make them redundant.
    Marcia's social worker did worry me as she seemed incredibly unprofessional. It says she is a volunteer and I actually looked up social work in the 1970s to see where she'd fit in into the structure. It seems at the time social services was becoming professionalised, but there must have been scope for people like Janice to do a bit of 'do-gooding'. I'm sure there are still opportunities to go and visit elderly lonely people as a volunteer, but I would imagine (and hope) that it is rather better supervised and that Janice could have flagged up her concerns about Marcia before things got too late.
    As for the church. Pym mentions Letty as living in NW6 and I imagine her Mrs Pope is involved with St Augustine's there. When I was a child there were some fearsome old ladies in fox fur tippets who worshipped there.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    I’ve worked in an office and certainly wondered what the point of it was. Barbara Pym had just retired from a job with which she had very little sympathy – she edited a journal for anthropologists and they appear frequently in her works, with considerable doubt as to the value of their work.

    Working all your life for something that doesn’t seem to have any value is a very common experience. None of the four express conscious frustration about this, but unconscious frustration is the background of all Barbara Pym’s best work. It may be one of the causes of Norman’s undirected anger.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Andras wrote: »
    Was anyone else as bothered as I was by the very vague description of the office in which the members of the ‘quartet’ work? Its functions are apparently important enough that they have plenty to do, but when they retire none of them needs to be replaced;
    Now that you mention this, yes, I remember when I read it that rankled slightly!
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    Thanks for the information on WW2 experiences and book suggestion Venbede. I have always hated and been scared of war and bombs (the fear was worst when I was a child) and found the idea of them terrifying so I always find it hard to imagine not being affected long-term by living through a war that directly affected you. I hated the sound of air raid sirens on T.V. shows, even the comedy "Allo, Allo" after I found out what the sound meant. Hearing it still gives me the creeps. But perhaps in the past most people were affected, but the culture was to keep it to yourself. While reading this book I also read 'Three Mothers and a Camel' by Phyllida Law (British actress and mother of Emma and Sophie Thompson). She was deeply affected by being an evacuee from Glasgow to the countryside during WW2. It was also interesting comparing her everyday life experiences to the characters in 'Quartet in Autumn'.

    I too wondered what exactly the work was that the quartet did. As others have suggested I'm guessing their tasks were being replaced by modern technology, such as more efficient photocopiers and maybe computers. It reminds me of another of Alan Bennett's works, 'A Woman of No Importance'. Patricia Routledge plays a single woman who only has social contacts in the workplace and is also being kept on out of kindness as most of her tasks have been taken over by technology. Her story has some similarities to Marcia's story in that she ends up in hospital with stomach problems (cancer?) and only has work colleagues to visit her. It was produced in 1982, so a similar time period.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I wonder if the book’s title is meant to be ironic. A musical quartet after all is one in which all the players are closely bound together, but the book’s ‘quartet’ have as little to do with one another as possible, and some of them rather seem to resent the others – not very harmonious, really.

    At first the book seemed to me to be rather on the lines of a plot-idea for The Archers (a very long-running British radio soap-opera, for those who don’t know) with very little happening of any consequence. Marcia’s death changed all that.

    Her hoarding of milk-bottles, plastic bags and unworn clothes reminded me a little of the ‘aunts’ in The Mill on the Floss, whose cupboards are full of unused linen whose sole purpose is to be discovered after their death, thus proving what careful house-keepers they had been.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    1. The title is Quartet in Autumn. Are the main characters a 'quartet' or just four people thrown together by chance?
    They are all somewhat similar in that they are quite isolated, with few real friends. When they do all go out for dinner the conversation is very stilted. One could imagine a boss where they worked thinking they were all of a similar age and temperament so sticking them together in an office would work. By the end I did think they were gradually breaking down barriers and beginning to see each other as people. I thought Letty thinking what she would like if in hospital and sending in the lavender water for Marica was a rather moving moment, a small step towards genuine feeling for another perosn

    2. Did you find the main characters believable? Did you think some were more successfully drawn than others?
    I found Letty, who I assume is loosely based on Pym, is a believable character. Marica, too I could imagine. Her crush on her surgeon and the way her mind gently unravels over the course of book seemed credible. The men I found hard to get a handle on, specially Norman. Why is he so short tempered, does he realise too late he had feelings for Marica, I felt I didn't have enough to go on.

    3. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it is set in a time and place I know well. If you knew 1970s London did it evoke memories. If you didn't can you imagine yourself there?
    There are a lot of things such as inflation that get mentioned in passing, that did occupy minds in 1970s Britain. Thatcher gets a brief mention too. None of the characters were worrying about what happened f they were ill, there was the assumption that help would be provided by the state, even if some of it, such as Marcia's 'social worker' was pretty dire. I liked the mention of the 37 bus. I could well imagine Marcia's surgeon in a nice house in Dulwich.

    4. At the end several of the characters are facing choices. Which ones do you think they will make?
    I liked the way Letty was thinking that there were other possibilities and that she would take her time before deciding. Norman too, I assume he would sell the house, I'm not sure quite what he'd do with the money.

    5. In the introduction to my copy by Alexander McCall Smith, he mentions the humour, and cites several episodes he thought particularly amusing. Were there any incidents that appealed to your sense of humour?
    I liked the picnic with Marjorie and her boyfriend when Letty has to pretend to be asleep.

    6. Any comments on the church and its clergy as portrayed in the book?
    Most of the clergy seem embarrassed to be doing caring , the hospital chaplain who is relieved that Marcia is past him having to talk to her for instance. Father G and Edwin seem far more interested in ritual than faith. I've come across several characters like that in Sinister Street for instance. Are there such people in real life, not sure that I've ever met one, but then I'm not an Anglican.

    7. If you've not read any Pym before, will you be seeking out her other books? Famously she lost her publishing contract in the early sixties only to be rediscovered in the seventies. Do her works stand the test of time?
    I do like her books, but I'm not sure I could read them back to back.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    When she wrote Quartet, BP had had a mastectomy and retired from a job she didn’t find very fulfilling. It was very brave to betray herself as Marcia. Or rather Marcia was what she could so easily have been.

    The other point of similarity between them is Marcia’s obsession with her surgeon. BP certainly knew what it was to have a hopeless pash for an unsuitable or unobtainable man – the earliest and latest novels published during her life are based on her own experience. Again she seems to be parodying herself.

    Except I don’t find Marcia funny but chilling. I admit there were tears in my eyes when I read her death. The surgeon smiles down at her and she smiles back, probably for the only time in the book. Her passion can never be fulfilled but she dies happy for the first time.

  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Venbede, that’s very illuminating - many thanks.

    I suspect BP’s personal history as partly reflected in Marcia explains why she is the most rounded character - in terms of the way she ‘comes off the page’ and not in terms of having a rounded personality, of course.

    The others do tend to be Pirandelli-type ‘characteristics’ rather than real characters, and so each one has been lined up with a single distinctive marker rather than having real depth: a love of High Church ritual, a friend in the country, and so on. Is this typical of Pym’s writing? This is the first book of hers that I’ve read.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    What is very unusual is that two male characters - Edwin and Norman - exist in their own right rather than as seen by women. Letty is not a typical Pym central woman in that she has "never known love". All four are rather less cultured than typical Pym central characters and even socially a cut below. None have a higher education, even Letty the most genteel of them.

    BP, who read English at Oxford, was very fond of quoting poets - at least three of her novels take their title from poems. Her main women characters often know and quote poetry. These four don't know any poetry.

    There is one point Letty has more in common with BP than the others. BP lived with her sister who was probably a bit bossy. This was certainly reflected in the relationship between the two sisters in her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle. They are even called Belinda and Harriet, after Barbara and Hilary. It is a relationship that occurs in a number of novels, but is displayed in a very critical light here in the relationship of Letty and Marjorie. The book ends with Letty's strange sense of release that she doesn't have to be subservient to Marjorie.

    The other novels I would recommend are:

    Some Tame Gazelle
    Excellent Women
    A Glass of Blessings
    The Sweet Dove Died

    Not bother with anything not published during her lifetime, apart from Crampton Hodnet.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    venbede wrote: »
    What is very unusual is that two male characters - Edwin and Norman - exist in their own right rather than as seen by women. Letty is not a typical Pym central woman in that she has "never known love". All four are rather less cultured than typical Pym central characters and even socially a cut below. None have a higher education, even Letty the most genteel of them.

    BP, who read English at Oxford, was very fond of quoting poets - at least three of her novels take their title from poems. Her main women characters often know and quote poetry. These four don't know any poetry.

    There is one point Letty has more in common with BP than the others. BP lived with her sister who was probably a bit bossy. This was certainly reflected in the relationship between the two sisters in her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle. They are even called Belinda and Harriet, after Barbara and Hilary. It is a relationship that occurs in a number of novels, but is displayed in a very critical light here in the relationship of Letty and Marjorie. The book ends with Letty's strange sense of release that she doesn't have to be subservient to Marjorie.

    The other novels I would recommend are:

    Some Tame Gazelle
    Excellent Women
    A Glass of Blessings
    The Sweet Dove Died

    Not bother with anything not published during her lifetime, apart from Crampton Hodnet.

    That's very interesting, thanks again.

    Never known love, of course, is a direct quotation from G&S Patience; the exchange runs thus:

    Is it true that you have never known love?
    Most true.
    And most deplorable!
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I wonder if the first stanza in the first poem of T. S. Eliot's The Four Quartet's speaks to the sense of time in Pym's Quartet in Autumn?

    http://www.davidgorman.com/4Quartets/1-norton.htm
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    1. The title is Quartet in Autumn. Are the main characters a 'quartet' or just four people thrown together by chance?

    In many ways they are only thrown together by chance, but gradually over time they become if not more cohesive, at least familiar to each other, and there don’t seem to be too many other people for them to associate with. Venbede noted that Pym worked in an office job she may not have much liked – even through editor of Africa would have been a well-respected job at a well-respected journal. I’m sure the vagueness of the job the quartet do is deliberate, along with the subtext of frustration that the roles aren’t important; not important enough for the women to be replaced when they retire.

    2. Did you find the main characters believable? Did you think some were more successfully drawn than others?

    The women were drawn more clearly than the men. Marcia is a memorable character and so well drawn – interesting that she may be somewhat autobiographical.

    3. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it is set in a time and place I know well. If you knew 1970s London did it evoke memories. If you didn't can you imagine yourself there?

    Oh yes indeed. I was living in Essex during the relevant years, but visited London often. I found the somewhat unprofessional social worker very believable, it was like that, with volunteer and professional roles much less clear than today. It was also common for single people to live in bedsits in someone else’s house rather than small flats – particularly common for young singles, though I guess that many never moved out, like Letty. I found myself thinking about the unmarried teachers at my high school. What happened to them after retirement? It was generally rumoured amongst us girls that they had (all?) been engaged to glamorous pilots who’d been killed in the war – I suppose that may have been true for one or two, but I doubt was as common as assumed. Was something like that true of Letty? But they could have faced a lonely old age.

    I’ve recently re-read Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club which I found even more evocative, but that’s because I spent my teenage years in Birmingham, and went to ‘King William’s’. And it’s not often you get to read a novel about your own school, at roughly the right time! But I do feel that I have been immersed in the 1970s, even if Coe’s portrait is of much younger characters than Pym’s. That of course changes the tone: Pym’s characters are disorientated by change, feel out of touch with their earlier lives, while Coe’s characters embrace the new. But the sense of narrowness, and brownness, but also increasing change of the 1970s, permeate both. Actually I haven’t lived in Britain since 1976, though I’ve visited many times since – so in many ways this is the Britain I remember.

    5. In the introduction to my copy by Alexander McCall Smith, he mentions the humour, and cites several episodes he thought particularly amusing. Were there any incidents that appealed to your sense of humour?

    It was the dry wit running through that I enjoyed, rather than any laugh-out-loud moments. The milk bottle episode was poignant rather than funny, it is after all a symptom of something seriously out of kilter. (Coe is much funnier)

    6. Any comments on the church and its clergy as portrayed in the book?
    Oh very old fashioned C of E! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    7. If you've not read any Pym before, will you be seeking out her other books?
    This is the first I’ve read, but I’ll be trying some of the others recommended. I think the themes – the isolation of age, loneliness - are important enough that the work does pass the test of time, and I like the dry wit.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I agree @Marama that the women are more clearly drawn than the men. I think Pym seems to have used bits of her own life in both Letty and Marcia. From the pictures I've seen of Pym she looks very much the way I think Letty would have looked, and I'm sure some of Marcia's hospital experiences were Pym's own.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    As I said above, Quartet is unusual among Pym's books in that it includes male characters who are not seen mainly from a woman's point of view. Letty and Marcia are on stage more than the two men. That's partly because they have to cope with retirement whereas the men do not as yet. BP would have had plenty of experience of hospitals and treatments, but her experience of illness would have been very different from Marcia's,,

    The book was published in 1977. She died of cancer in January 1980 having considerable suffering. She sent her last book, A Few Green Leaves, to her publisher before she had polished it to her satisfaction but aware she would never be well enough to give it the attention she believed it needed. Although not as fine as the other two late works, I didn't notice any shortcomings.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I found the contrast of how we view doctors then and now interesting. Marcia had a crush on her surgeon, but also viewed him with total respect and trust. Although she forgot to follow the doctor's orders about eating more she did want to follow them despite her difficult relationship with food (possibly an eating disorder?).

    These days people are a lot more questioning and distrustful. Partly because there have been medical scandals and pharmaceutical companies who have made decisions in their own best interests rather than patients' interests at times. Eg. thalidomide and Oxycontin.

    Also partly because some people are more educated and knowledgeable about the human body and even those who are not can 'research' information on the internet. Before the internet this move seemed fairly positive as people took more charge of their own care and kept the experts accountable. Post internet it has caused new problems when people with poor online literacy believe unreliable sources or myths on social media, sometimes with dire results for individuals and communities.
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