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The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax, #1)
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Group Reads > The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax Chapters 1-11

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1179 comments Mod
Discuss chapters 1-11 here, and remember to tag spoilers!


message 2: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1906 comments Full disclosure: I'm older than Mrs. Pollifax now, and I've never had the least desire to become a spy. I'm such a stick-in-the-mud.


message 3: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1906 comments I had to go look up whether or not it is true that if one is being fed via an IV, one will not experience hunger. Strangely enough, it is mostly true! It's not just the emptiness that triggers the sensation of hunger, then; I have now learned a very useful fact, once again by reading pure fiction.


Bobbie | 86 comments I am also older than Mrs. Pollifax and I definitely could not have done all the things she went through when I was her age. I do not know what was going on in Chapter 11 so I will just move on to the next thread. I started a couple of days early and will finish later this evening. I am thoroughly enjoying it.


Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I'm reading the first chapters now. I was laughing, but also much more touched than I expected--perhaps because, like Mrs Pollifax, I'm growing older and feeling many of the emotions that threaten to quietly engulf her.

This passage in Ch 1 that somehow gives us the essential, hidden, interior world of Emily Pollifax and it's something of a gut punch:
What a funny child she had been, she thought, she thought with affection, a lonely but very happy child. She was lonely now but so (view spoiler)



message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1906 comments Hana wrote: "I'm reading the first chapters now. I was laughing, but also much more touched than I expected--perhaps because, like Mrs Pollifax, I'm growing older and feeling many of the emotions that threaten ..."

I am a lover of geraniums, and I could seriously see (and feel) through her eyes the entire scene. I don't remember the later books being as touching as this has been so far.

Her feeling of... what? being a has-been? is easy to identify with, I think, as we age. I have always been particularly lucky in being "useful", and I see what she means.


message 7: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 143 comments For some reason I’m not able to source this book, but can get most of the others! So I’ll just follow all your comments.


Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Lesley, are you in the US? It might have been published under another title elsewhere.


message 9: by Abigail (last edited Apr 10, 2019 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 567 comments You've put your finger on what I love about Mrs. Pollifax books, Hana! They are just fun on the surface but have all these deeper things going on. (view spoiler)


message 10: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Abigail, I never noticed the deeper things going on when I read this ages ago but now that I'm Emily Pollifax's age I'm reading this with a whole new set of eyes.


message 11: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 143 comments Hana wrote: "Lesley, are you in the US? It might have been published under another title elsewhere."

I'm in NZ Hana. I've tried it under this title and the alternative, Mrs Pollifax, Spy with no luck.
That's okay, I'll just follow the discussions and decide from that if I dive into the second book.


message 12: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
When Carol gets back from vacation she may be able to track it down. I'm constantly amazed by how hard it is to source Australian and NZ books here in the US. I stumbled upon an Arthur W. Upfield mystery somewhere in a used book store and got hooked--Alas its almost impossible to find here in Boston despite a superb state-wide library system.


message 13: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 334 comments Hana wrote: "Abigail, I never noticed the deeper things going on when I read this ages ago but now that I'm Emily Pollifax's age I'm reading this with a whole new set of eyes."
yes, this has also been my experience. I read these books decades ago for the adventure, now I read them for the people in particular Emily Pollifax herself.


message 14: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Emily is a darling and a wonder! As a fan ofGeorgette Heyer's Regency romances this paragraph from Ch 1 really got to me:
'When I was growing up--oh for years--I planed to become a spy', she admitted. The doctor threw back his head and laughed, and Mrs. Pollifax wondered why, when she was being her most serious, people found her so amusing....Her husband's favorite term of endearment for her had been 'lovable little goose'...
Emily must have been born around the end of the Victorian era and even as an American she would have absorbed some of those ideals.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 567 comments It's poignant to think of such a bright and wonderful woman being treated so dismissively. I can't imagine being in a marriage where my husband feels free to call me a lovable little goose--so lonely.

I know such attitudes were acceptable even in my lifetime, but I could never accept them.


message 16: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Karlyne wrote: "I had to go look up whether or not it is true that if one is being fed via an IV, one will not experience hunger. Strangely enough, it is mostly true! It's not just the emptiness that triggers the ..."

Interesting. I just watched the latest 'Call the Midwife' on PBS (excellent btw) I wonder why the British Suffragettes who went on hunger strikes were force-fed by what seems to be either nasal or oral intubation.


message 17: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "It's poignant to think of such a bright and wonderful woman being treated so dismissively. I can't imagine being in a marriage where my husband feels free to call me a lovable little goose--so lone..."

True! Although I've known a few geese in my time; few have been lovable and most have been downright savage--it might be a prophecy.

In defense of Mr whatever Pollifax, Emily seems to have absorbed her insecurity more from her general childhood surroundings and from her ghastly maths teacher who kept going on about the value of pi.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1906 comments It really is her insecurity, I also think which derives from her childhood (because do we ever outgrow it?), that drives how everyone treats her. She has a fatal tendency to believe what they think, or even say, about her - which, of course, increases her insecurity. It's very hard for "nice" people to call people on their casual behavior, to even question it.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Karlyne wrote: "Full disclosure: I'm older than Mrs. Pollifax now, and I've never had the least desire to become a spy. I'm such a stick-in-the-mud."

Me, neither - I have no desire to be drugged, shot at, threatened, etc.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Hana wrote: "I'm reading the first chapters now. I was laughing, but also much more touched than I expected--perhaps because, like Mrs Pollifax, I'm growing older and feeling many of the emotions that threaten ..."

Oh, yes, this struck me too - especially now, after two brain surgeries, I’m well and recovered, but left with balance issues, probably for the rest of my life - it does make you wonder, what do I want to do? What can I realistically do? (Not be a spy, that’s for sure...)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Hana wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "I had to go look up whether or not it is true that if one is being fed via an IV, one will not experience hunger. Strangely enough, it is mostly true! It's not just the emptiness th..."

I saw that episode, too - brilliant! I really enjoy that show, and think they are finding great, subtle ways to explore pervasive issues (often affecting women, but by extension, all of society) in the historical period (early 1960s), but hopefully it slaps people a bit and wakes them up to realize “huh, that’s STILL a divisive issue” whether it’s abortion, birth control, women getting equal pay and opportunity.

As for why they force fed them, I think they wouldn’t allow them to die in custody.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Hana wrote: "Abigail, I never noticed the deeper things going on when I read this ages ago but now that I'm Emily Pollifax's age I'm reading this with a whole new set of eyes."

Yes, me, too.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Karlyne wrote: "It really is her insecurity, I also think which derives from her childhood (because do we ever outgrow it?), that drives how everyone treats her. She has a fatal tendency to believe what they think..."

Absolutely agree!


message 24: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Susan in NC wrote: "As for why they force fed them, I think they wouldn’t allow them to die in custody...."

Yes...and/or also to increase the pain and the subsequent re-experience of hunger (that part really got to me).

Drifting off-topic I know but the latest ITV Unforgotten, Series 3 airing now on PBS was just terrific. I never caught the first two but I'm hooked.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Hana wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "As for why they force fed them, I think they wouldn’t allow them to die in custody...."

Yes...and/or also to increase the pain and the subsequent re-experience of hunger (that ..."


That part really got me, too...I don’t think I’ve ever seen Unforgotten (my PBS might not have carried it, or I missed it.) Good to know it’s worth watching- I’ll keep my eyes open in case we get it!


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1179 comments Mod
I finally got this book from the library last night and read up to Chapter 6. I'm dying to know what happens to Mrs. Pollifax next but I have to work today for a while! :p

It's an interesting glimpse of 60's culture, isn't it? At least so far I don't think we even know Mrs. Pollifax's first name. She's always just "Mrs. Pollifax" or even "Mrs. Virgil Pollifax." And do we know her exact age? She compares herself to a 63 year old actress so I assume she's around the same age.

I'm in admiration of her determined search for purpose and meaning in her life.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 567 comments I'm not sure when it turns up, but her first name is Emily. It does say a lot about '60s notions of privacy and courtesy that we take a long time to learn it. I miss those days.

So glad you're enjoying it!


message 28: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 12, 2019 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Abigail wrote: "I'm not sure when it turns up, but her first name is Emily. It does say a lot about '60s notions of privacy and courtesy that we take a long time to learn it. I miss those days.

So glad you're en..."


Amen, sister! I was born in 1965, wasn’t even aware of it, but I miss it, too...it is a fun read, Tadiana, glad you’re enjoying it - it’s a wonderful audiobook, too!


Portia | 7 comments I am so pleased that my initial reaction (Erf, I need a book with more meat right now) has been completely overturned by my desire to learn how Young Mrs. Pollifax saves herself and puts the CIA back on track. What a good choice this book is!


message 30: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 334 comments since I suggested this read, I feel more than a little smug! I'm really glad people are enjoying it.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 567 comments I was wondering whom to thank, Jackie!


message 32: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Thanks, Jackie!


Elinor | 188 comments I have to thank Jackie as well -- one of the drawbacks of retro reads is that their titles are often so light and silly. I'm not sure that I would ever have chosen a book with this title, but I'm so glad I found it through this group as I am enjoying it immensely.


Bobbie | 86 comments I found another Mrs. Pollifax yesterday at our "Friends" shop where I volunteer and snapped it up.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1211 comments Jackie wrote: "since I suggested this read, I feel more than a little smug! I'm really glad people are enjoying it."

Thanks, Jackie, I didn’t appreciate it years ago when I read it, but this reread, listening to the excellent Barbara Rosenblat, was such a treat!


message 36: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 334 comments I doubt I would have ever discovered the series except my Mom was a fan.


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