The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Written by Dorothy Gilman

Book #16 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Random House
First Edition: 1966
My Edition: 1983
Original Language: English

Let me preface this by saying that this one was my book club’s choice. I would not normally pick up this kind of book. I don’t read mystery books or spy books or books written in the 1960’s by old women. It’s just not my style. If you follow me, you probably figured that out by my review of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The point is, I don’t read books like this. But this book was, well, unexpected.

It was charming and hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mrs. Pollifax is getting up there in age. She is so bored with her life of Garden Club meetings that she actually considers killing herself just to get it over with. But then she reads a newspaper article of an older woman who begins a career as an actress, and is inspired to go apply for the CIA. Yes, apply. She walks right in and asks if they need any spies. Thus begins her adventure:

Never mind if most of the women looked sleek and Parisian and the men dressed exactly like Americans – this was Mexico because she had seen a sombrero. (Page 23)

Smart Man in Sombrero

At one point she got herself into a pickle and had to sneak herself out of a situation by getting down on all fours in the middle of a goat herd.

The boy did most of the work, running backward and forward to keep the goats in a tight cluster. But it was the tightness of the cluster that soon became Mrs. Pollifax’s major concern, for although she had not crawled on hands and knees since she was a child–and never for any distance–it was the goats that proved especially unnerving. They stepped on her, the bleated alarmingly in first her left ear and then her right ear, they playfully nipped her, and over and above these hardships there was their smell. She had never thought of goats as smelling; she had never thought of goats at all, but of course no one bathed goats and this was the dry season. They had a particularly obnoxious odor, and she was surrounded by, and distressingly intimate with, an entire herd of them. (Page 152)

A 2 month old goat kid in a field of capeweed

Goats are probably cuter when you don’t have to be at smell-level with them.

Her goat entanglement continues, and grows increasingly hilarious as her distress rises.

Anyways, the humor is great if you enjoy the prim responses of an old woman to wild adventure.

I urge you to enjoy this one.

Happy reading, friends.

The Last Song

Written by Nicholas Sparks

Cover of "The Last Song"

Cover of The Last Song

Book #15 of 2012

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Nationality: U.S.
First Edition: 2009
My Edition: 2010
Original Language: English

Well…I have been quite a slacker lately. I actually finished this book about a month ago, but got really lazy and didn’t want to write about it. I’m sure you’re all just dying to hear my thoughts. But if I’m to be honest, I don’t remember this novel as crystal clear as I probably would have when I really finished it.

I know this book got all kinds of wonderful reviews, but I don’t fully agree with all the hype. I guess I shouldn’t have ready The Lucky One first, because I thought that book was fantastic, so my bar was set pretty high.

Autographed

Seventeen year old Ronnie, who has her life flipped when her parents get a divorce, remains a mean little brat three years later. Her mother decides it would be best for all involved if Ronnie were to go spend the summer with her estranged father in Wilmington, North Carolina. Throughout the book, Ronnie’s mean, hard shell is chipped away by her new love for Will and her rekindled relationship with her father.

The theme of the book is based on Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

All through the book you learn about Ronnie’s father and his search for God.

…he couldn’t help feeling like an amateur, someone searching for God’s truth like a child searching for seashells.

I can relate to this. There is a feeling of inadequacy that comes with the search for God. And then when you realize that God is in everything, that He is everywhere, the feelings of inadequacy are replaced with feelings of hope and of peace.

As for Ronnie, I thought it was kind of weird, her falling in love so quickly. Who falls in love with a guy in a couple weeks? But hey, I’m a cynic. (A happily married cynic, I’ll have you know.) But Will was pretty head over heels for her, too, so it certainly wasn’t one-sided. Ahhh, the smell of summer romance.

He started at her, knowing with certainty that he was falling in love. He pulled her close and kissed her beneath a blanket of stars, wondering how on earth he’d been lucky enough to find her.

Anyways, The Last Song was pretty good. I guess I just had a hard time relating to it, because I didn’t fall in love until I was an adult, and I’ve never been estranged from someone, only to **SPOILER ALERT** have them die after I rekindle the relationship. And it probably didn’t help that I was imagining Miley Cyrus as Ronnie the entire time, either – something that really grated on my nerves. Damn movie.