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The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax, #1)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
So what did you think? No need to tag spoilers in this thread, but uncheck "Add to my Update Feed" when you post a comment that contains spoilers, as a courtesy to your GR friends and followers.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments I thought it was great fun, and I’m glad I reread it, while listening to Barbara Rosenblat’s narration on audiobook, it was wonderful!


message 3: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 364 comments I love the entire series and feel this first book really stands the test of time.
We are introduced to an older woman who believes she is no longer useful and her transformation to a competent agent is completely believable. I found the blend of charm, humor and suspense to be perfect. What a great read!


Hana | 1104 comments Mod
What stood out for me this time was how often Mrs Pollifax saves the day by her humanity, instinctive kindness, and openness--like the moment when she decides she simply must save the Chinese prisoner!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Hana wrote: "What stood out for me this time was how often Mrs Pollifax saves the day by her humanity, instinctive kindness, and openness--like the moment when she decides she simply must save the Chinese priso..."

And thank goodness she did, he saved their bacon at one point!


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Weirdly enough, I liked this book better than the ones later in the series - weird, because usually it takes a bit for an author to hit her stride. However, Gilman was already a pretty prolific writer, so maybe Mrs. Pollifax just took her by surprise. I noticed when grabbing this one from the library that there are now some new editions of the rest of her books on the shelves, so I'll be able to work my way through them and see what I think now!

I do remember enjoying her Madam Katinska's (?) and the stand-alone novels, so I'll add them, too.

Back to Mrs. Pollifax: Jackie mentions that she believes that she's useless, and I'll even go one step further and say that the life she was living was just plain empty. Being a spy is a drastic way to fill up, but if there's something missing and you've always wanted to be a spy, it's a perfect fit. I think Emily is a perfect example of how easy it is to regret what you've wanted to do and haven't done. I've heard so many older women say that they're regretful, and it's rather heart-breaking. I don't know if it's "the putting-off until it's too late" syndrome or not, but Mrs. Pollifax is a great role model for getting off the couch and getting going...

One other weird thing I noticed is that although this is a very American novel, it doesn't have a particularly American flavor. I'm not sure if this was just my mood or if it really is a bit different!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments I fear women, especially of earlier generations, are socialized to put loved ones' priorities ahead of their own, and ultimately many come to regret that choice.


message 8: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 364 comments Abigail wrote: "I fear women, especially of earlier generations, are socialized to put loved ones' priorities ahead of their own, and ultimately many come to regret that choice."

and this was just taken for granted by their families rather than appreciated.

although this is a very American novel, it doesn't have a particularly American flavor

well, most of takes place out of the country, but I think you mean something else?


Bobbie | 88 comments I really enjoyed this book even though as a woman of a certain age, I did find it incredible. I guess the thing I most did not understand about Mrs. Pollifax was her unconcern about possibly never seeing her children and grandchildren again. As a grandmother, I want to be involved in their lives as long as possible. So, although I did love her as a character, I was just baffled by her.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Well, it seems like they're not so much in her life, so maybe they contributed to her feeling of being supernumerary. If they want her only for what she does for them, then maybe she feels the need to separate herself. Also, patriotism was closer to the surface in those days--if she were a grandfather who decided to risk his life for his country, would you have the same concern?


Bobbie | 88 comments Maybe not.


message 12: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 13, 2019 08:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments I really think it has to do with the fact, also, that Mrs P was in New Jersey, and the grandkids were in, I believe, Arizona and Chicago. She did get souvenirs for them, and her daughter did say she wished she knew she was wanting to travel, she could have come to Arizona and babysat while she and her husband were in Canada - I think she mentioned the kids loved staying with Mrs. P over a sitter, which led me to feel she had stayed there and been more involved in the grandkids lives when possible. They weren’t right around the corner, though, so I think for both grown kids, now parents themselves, their mother is a love but “out of sight, out of mind”. And Mrs. P seems far too sensitive to push her way in without an invitation.

My mother lived here in NC, and saw a lot of my son while he was growing up, but not so much her other grandkids- she was a widow, worked a part-time job that afforded her friends to go to dinner with, time to read, go to movies, etc. After a lifetime of being a wife and mother of five, I think she enjoyed doing what she wanted, when she wanted...


Bobbie | 88 comments I can understand that, I like my own time, also. My grands are all 3 hours or more away and most are small so I enjoy them very much but most I just see about every month or so.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Bobbie, that sounds pretty perfect!


message 15: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Mrs P was seriously depressed, as her doctor recognized. Her life wasn't just empty, it felt to her desolate to the point where she seriously considered suicide. It took incredible (and somewhat improbable) daring for her to take that first step--getting on the plane to DC and applying for a job.

I did get several laughs out of the chapters where Carstairs finds his perfect courier and then realizes he's got a total amateur on his hands.


message 16: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 364 comments one of the wonderful things about the series is how Carstairs continues to be believably surprised at the abilities of Mrs. Pollifax as she develops into a more and more experienced agent.
In each book, as things go wrong and the suspense builds, I find myself savoring how pleased and astonished Carstairs and Bishop will be at her even surviving, let alone accomplishing her mission.
all while her family and neighbors remain clueless!


message 17: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Abigail wrote: "I fear women, especially of earlier generations, are socialized to put loved ones' priorities ahead of their own, and ultimately many come to regret that choice."

I think the old "if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is something Mama ought to contemplate upon more often. It's a good thing to put others ahead of ourselves, selfishness being ugly, but we need to think about just how beneficial it is to those we're... serving.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Swallowed it whole in one sleepless night, and it was as fresh and delightful as ever, though I must have read it at least five times. Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 19: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Good one, Abigail!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Thank you!


message 21: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 364 comments Abigail wrote: "Swallowed it whole in one sleepless night, and it was as fresh and delightful as ever, though I must have read it at least five times. Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."
lovely review, thank you


message 22: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Abigail wrote: "Swallowed it whole in one sleepless night, and it was as fresh and delightful as ever, though I must have read it at least five times. Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

You put it all very beautifully!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Thank you for the kind words, Jackie and Karlyne!


Elinor | 198 comments Karlyne wrote: "Weirdly enough, I liked this book better than the ones later in the series - weird, because usually it takes a bit for an author to hit her stride. However, Gilman was already a pretty prolific wri..."

I noticed that, too. In fact, I had to remind myself a couple of times that she was American because I kept thinking of her as British, for some reason. Perhaps I was harking back to the stiff upper lip concept that the Brits made famous.


Elinor | 198 comments A general observation on retro reads, and no doubt that's why this group exists: when I read contemporary "light fiction," there is no comparison to the writing characterized as light fiction written in the past, as is the case with The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Light fiction written in the past is so much deeper, richer, and more complex -- not to mention being better written. This book is a perfect example. I can only assume sadly that fiction writing has been going downhill for a long time, with the occasional exception, of course.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments I blame it mostly on publishers, who demand that things be dumbed down and streamlined to a ridiculous degree. I remember losing hope in the 1980s when I was working on a few Regency romances in the Heyer vein, and in a class devoted to Regency romance I was told that nobody wanted subplots or secondary characters. Hunh??


message 27: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽, Moderator (last edited Apr 27, 2019 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
That’s terrible! Subplots and secondary characters can be some of the greatest joys in a novel.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments You'd think, right? Besides shedding light on the main characters and themes and all. I guess it was supposed to be all heavy breathing and bodice ripping.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Abigail wrote: "Swallowed it whole in one sleepless night, and it was as fresh and delightful as ever, though I must have read it at least five times. Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

Great review, Abigail- grit and goodness indeed! Beautifully said!


message 30: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 27, 2019 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Abigail wrote: "You'd think, right? Besides shedding light on the main characters and themes and all. I guess it was supposed to be all heavy breathing and bodice ripping."

How dreary! I don’t know about other readers, but that certainly wouldn’t keep my interest. A little bit of heaving and ripping - sure, if it’s done well and adds to the plot - but a whole book of it?! No, thanks...


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Thank you for the kind words, Susan! I wish I had one-tenth of Mrs. Pollifax's character.


Elinor | 198 comments There appears to be a pretty formulaic approach to fiction these days . . . good thing we still have the option of reading these wonderful classics like Mrs. Pollifax. And the Victorians, which I love.


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I rarely read "new" fiction unless it's been recommended to me by someone I trust and mostly only if they send me the book, too. I was going to say that includes my 11 year old grandson, who's sent me two books, but then I remembered that they were pretty much "classics", too: The Phantom Toll Booth and Howl's Moving Castle.

But! what I was meaning to say is that I picked up Mrs. Pollifax' second adventure at the library, and I'm looking forward to it in a few days.


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