Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mrs. Miniver

It's the book I'm talking about, not the movie (which was instrumental in persuading the US to come to England's defense in WWII.) I never saw the movie but from what I've read online, it was totally different from the book--building on an already beloved character and soaring into drama.

There's very little drama in the book--a collection of essays/vignettes told by Mrs. M., all of which were originally part of a popular English newspaper column.  I was hooked at once by the calm beauty of the prose and the description of what seemed a rather idyllic life. It's set mostly on the eve of WWII and life has not yet been greatly disrupted--though these are signs of things to come, like being fitted for gas masks.

Mrs. Miniver is described as a middle-class housewife--but her charming husband is a successful architect and they have a child at Eton, a nanny, a cook, a parlor maid, a London house, and a place in the country. 

Nonetheless, it's the little things that matter here--whether it's being up in an apple tree about to burst into bloom or saving up interesting tidbits from the day to share with her husband, secure in the knowledge that he too will have some funny stories to tell. 

Not at all what I expected, but what a treat it was. There's a nice bit about it HERE 

As I looked around for more information, I found that the author--who I had assumed was more or less writing from her own experience -- had divorced that first charming husband, had an affair, and her circumstances had altered drastically. There's another nice appreciation of the book  ALSO HERE  that brings things into perspective.

It made me realize how apt we readers are to assume that writers are the protagonists of their own stories. And how often we writers idealize and/or sensationalize our own stories--twisting reality into fiction.

1 comment:

NCmountainwoman said...

I have never thought of reading Mrs. Miniver. I assumed the movie followed the book. I'm currently reading AMERICAN DIRT and speaking of protagonist, there has been a huge cry against the author. The story is about life in Mexico and the drug cartels. The argument is that Janinine Cummins never spent any time in Mexico and therefore should not have written the book. So far I am finding the writing excellent although the subject is painful. I'll definitely look at Mrs. Miniver next. Perhaps as an audio-book