Dorothy Gilman’s plucky Mrs. Pollifax

Pollifax hat

Two hats Mrs. Pollifax would appreciate! Image courtesy of beglib, Morguefile.

Around the blogosphere, various people recommended I read about the adventures of Mrs. Pollifax, written by Dorothy Gilman. I finally acted upon their advice and checked out six Mrs. Pollifax books from the library.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so charmed by a literary character. (Mr. Darcy! Mr. Rochester! Stop crying! Stop it, I say!) Emily Pollifax is a garden-loving New York grandmother and widow who hooks up with the CIA and works as the occasional courier and spy. She’s sent abroad at a moment’s notice whenever the CIA needs a Very Innocent Tourist and gets embroiled in all sorts of expected and unexpected adventures.

In the first Mrs. Pollifax book that I picked up, I ran across my old friend, the word “defenestration”. That had to be a sign. (For those of you who recently started following me, the word “defenestration” is a running gag among me and my blog followers. It’s one of those words that stumps most people. No, I’m not telling what it means. Go Google it and come back.)

Mrs. P is quick-thinking, brave and resourceful. In one book, she and her friends are trapped by bad guys and the only way out is by a temporarily abandoned helicopter. Does that faze her? Naaaah.

Mrs. Pollifax jumps in with her friends (never mind that she has NO CLUE how to fly a helicopter), starts moving levers and manages to get the helicopter high enough to escape. She dodges a minaret, lands the helicopter (mostly due to the fact that it ran out of gas and they weren’t that high above the ground anyway) and keeps going.

And did I mention that she also knows karate? Some villains make the mistake of thinking her helpless (poor, deluded souls) but she manages to be victorious one way or another.

(Darcy! Rochester! Stop that dueling! Behave yourselves and put the swords down, now!)

Moral: Never underestimate your helicopter-kidnapping, karate-chopping grannies. They’ll surprise you, every time.

For another person you shouldn’t underestimate based on their looks, watch the following video from TS7. (I’m posting this as a polite nod to the fans of the 2014 World Cup and the dads of Father’s Day.)



Filed under Writing

17 responses to “Dorothy Gilman’s plucky Mrs. Pollifax

  1. I’ve always thought Judi Dench would do Mrs P quite well or even Helen Mirren.

  2. I will have to check this out. I am looking for a new series to read.

    I have long wanted to start an Organization for the Defenestration of Politicians. The more of them we defenestrate, the better the rest of them will behave. Fear is so motivating!

  3. She is definitely trending right now. I have done the same. I have the first six checked out now as well. I read the second one first as I was waiting for the first. Plus, the second one was set in Turkey which I have just visited. I read some of them almost twenty years ago and am remembering why I liked them so much.

  4. I’ll have to check these books out. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Ha ha. Years ago I was a volunteer tour guide at Gunston Hall. One of the things I explained was the building’s window fenestration. Love the word. Ms P. sounds like a character.

  6. A friend introduced me to Mrs. Pollifax many years ago, and she remains one of my favorite reads. I’ve read most of Dorothy Gilman’s other books, too, and found them very enjoyable. My favorite is Incident at Badamya. Thanks for bringing this up in time for summer reading! I think I’m overdue to pay Mrs. Pollifax a visit…

  7. This isn’t my usual kind of reading, but I admit being tempted. Just looked up the titles. Would you suggest reading Amazing Mrs. Pollifax first?

    • I’d suggest reading them in order, starting with “The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax”. It’s easier to track the character’s development that way. Look up the list of Mrs. P books on Wikipedia by typing in “Dorothy Gilman”.


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