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.

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