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Posts Tagged ‘Mrs. Miniver’

Entering the world of blogging was for me much like pushing through the wardrobe to Narnia or discovering the Borrowers living under the floorboards. It has opened up all sorts of new experiences and introduction to books by readers the world over; bookish bloggers whose reviews and recommendations are as good as, if not better than, those I find published in magazines and newspapers. I have discovered so many books I might not otherwise have heard of, or given a second glance.

Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struthers is one of those books.

I’ve known Mrs. Miniver for a very long time through the movie of the same name. Much like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, I’m not sure when I first saw “Mrs. Miniver”. It is as if I’ve always known it. I still enjoy the varied characters in the village, feel frightened as the Nazis nightly bombard the town and Mrs. Miniver hurries the children into the shelter. I still smile at the scene where the Miniver Rose is given the trophy (and thought of this scene when a similar one played out in Downton Abbey last season). I still cry at the loss of Carol as she and Mrs. Miniver travel by car in the darkest of night and I still feel a sigh of relief when Vin flies overhead to let his mother know he is okay.

All these years, of which I have many, I did not know of Mrs. Miniver the book until recently. How did that happen? How could I have missed such a rare treasure trove of stories so simple and rich?

However this book has gone unnoticed, I’m glad it found me. To read it is both a surprise and a comfort that I had my nose buried in all weekend.

The book is really a series of vignettes set around Mrs. Miniver. They are simple stories in short chapters that were published in the London Times between 1937-39. The essays are fiction, though said to be based upon the life of the author, and take us through the everyday, common moments of life. With no major plot, mystery or adventure, they are exquisitely written and I found myself always wanting more.

The chapters are delightful as we enjoy the first day of August, search for a new charwoman, visit the zoo, have strawberries and tea among the strawberry plants with Aunt Hetty. We observe Mrs. Miniver and her husband, Clem, discussing who to invite to a dinner party (it seems most couples have one member who is a good dinner guest, the other not). We go with Mrs. Miniver, her three children, and the household staff to get their gas masks. We watch Vin, Judy, and Toby emptying their Christmas stockings, with each child approaching it in a different way. It made me recall how such small events always reflected the characters of my own children.

In one absolutely delightful chapter, Mrs. Miniver is off to buy a new engagement calendar. It is mid-January. She ruminates over which calendar is best – and why – and the importance of keeping her calendars from year to year. The history they tell of a life.

Rather timely, at least here in the States, there is one chapter entitled “Left and Right”, in which Mrs. Miniver finds herself at a dinner party where two women of very opposite political views are seated near one another. Read along along with me, won’t you? It is the last few sentences of the chapter.

                Oh, Lord, thought Mrs. Miniver, we’re off again; and anyway, I’m sick and tired of being offered nothing but that same old choice. Left wing . . . Right wing . . . it’s so limited; why doesn’t it ever occur to any of them that what one is really longing for is the wishbone?

Indeed!

While the book and the movie are different, I truly could not say which one was better. I think they both stand up on their own merits. I will watch “Mrs. Miniver” again and again, of that I am sure, and I will read Mrs. Miniver over and over as well. One makes me long for the old silver screen, the other for a time when well-written essays and stories were published in magazines each month.  I urge you to visit both versions of an interesting woman of the 1930’s. I promise you that, at least with the book, you will never encounter a revolving door in the same way again.

(For those of you familiar with the movie, you might want to check out this post by Julia of Hooked on Houses. Julia often takes her readers “inside” movie and television homes. This one is all about Mrs. Miniver.)

hookedonhouses.net/2011/06/27/mrs-minivers-house-in-world-war-ii-england/

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These cherubs were playing their sweet music this year, trumpeting in the season, holding heavenly notes all these long winter nights. I knew, I just KNEW, that if I put them atop a few books of Christmases past, they would herald in a few more literary pages for me to turn in the long winter months ahead.

They didn’t fail me, these cherubs, nor my family in their giving.

It pays to properly place angels on things, doesn’t it?

It also pays to have an Amazon Wishlist.

I’m not generally one for making a list and checking it twice, and I’m definitely not making a plug for Amazon, but, I do find that keeping books on such a list helps me remember what I hope to read in the future – and I think it helps my family out as well.

Of course, there is my TBR list(s); in notebooks, on envelope flaps, napkins, and receipts, but, well, you know how most of those end up, don’t you? On the bottom of a purse, or shoe, in the wash, or on the floor of the car. This is all to ask you how you keep track of books you want to read. While your thinking on that, I thought you might like a glance at my holiday haul.

I think I’ll be starting with Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther.

The house is settling into the kind of quiet that sneaks in after the family goes home, the dishes are washed, the lights are turned on, and blissful feelings hover around moments well spent. ‘Tis good to have a few books to read as one settles in.

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Our television, telephone, and internet are all “bundled”.

When one goes out, they all go out.

We’ve been lucky this summer with all of its storms; through gale force winds, lightening, flooding and the rest of the vengeance of Mother Nature that has been prevalent in our area, we have had power. We were home from the hospital but a few hours on a clear and sunny afternoon when the television went blank. A quick check of the phones and the internet, and, poof. All gone. Tom wandered out to the road and there was our cable connection, draping the driveway, our technical umbilical cord severed from the mother source. Woe is me, alas and alack and, as Winnie-the-Pooh would utter, “oh, bother”.

Out of every crisis, I hear tell, comes an opportunity. Opportunity came. Out came some favorite videos not seen in a while. I sat and I sprawled, reclined and scrunched, a shield over my eye. Doesn’t a patch sound more exciting?  There I was, falling asleep and nodding off,  rewinding scenes over and over again in my sedate state.

I started with one of my favorite television series, The West Wing.

Whatever one’s political bent; right or left-wing or center – or upon one’s head, which is where, I fear, most of our elected officials are poised as I write this, The West Wing was, to me at least, one of the best written dramas of all time. You can tell good writing when you close your eyes and still enjoy the dialogue without the visuals. I know. My eyes, at least one, was closed through the first season of this boxed set.

Then came the wonderful seaside classic, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

The beautiful Mrs. Muir and the dashing but curmudgeonly sea captain, a ghost, play out some of the most romantic scenes on the screen, with nary a kiss or a touch. They grow to like each other and become companionable, in their own special way, as he ghostwrites a seaworthy yarn, which allows Mrs. Muir to buy the charming Gull Cottage.

Then, to round out my convalescence, I had only to pop in one of my all-time favorite movies, Mrs. Miniver. Have you seen it? You really should. Mrs. Miniver’s pluck, especially when encountering an enemy parachutist in kitchen one morning, and her gentle spirit in times of loss and sorrow, always give me a boost and leave me admiring the British resolve  and stiff upper lip all over again.

Do you have a favorite movie or two that you like to bundle up with when you are recovering from whatever it is that ails you?

I love this early scene where Mrs. Miniver is introduced to a rose named in her honor by the station master.

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