Monday, March 12, 2007

[Book Review] THE UNEXPECTED MRS. POLLIFAX by Dorothy Gilman


Sara Ellen Reid reviews THE UNEXPECTED MRS. POLLIFAX by Dorothy Gilman (Doubleday, 1966)

Sixty-something Emily Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey is a widow with two grown children and grandchildren when she tires of volunteer work, garden club meetings, and her "sensible" life. Mrs. Pollifax has always longed to do something significant for her country, so she decides to contact the CIA to offer herself as a spy! This unlikely spy candidate is, of course, initially rebuffed, but through a series of miscues she is actually given a "simple" assignment! She is to travel to Mexico as a tourist, go to El Papagayo Libreri on August 19, and request a copy of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. The book (presumably containing secret documents) is then to be brought back to Washington to Mr. Carstairs of the CIA. Predictably, the plan quickly goes awry as Mrs. Pollifax finds herself drugged, bound, and imprisoned on a remote mountaintop in Albania. Although a novice, the clever Mrs. Pollifax proves to be formidable adversary who is grossly underestimated by both her captors and the CIA.

WHY YOU'LL LOVE IT: The central character, Mrs. Pollifax, an older, charming, highly intelligent woman who repeatedly outwits the enemy and amazes her cohorts is the book's main appeal.

Sara Ellen Reid, Parkway Village Branch Library

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