Monday, March 19, 2012
I suspected I would love Mrs. Miniver the book since I already love Mrs. Miniver the movie, and I was not disappointed. I am sure I will return to it again and again, and it may have even earned a place on my "desert island" list. It is, however, quite different than the movie, and if I hadn't seen the movie first and fallen in love with it, I would be annoyed because of the great liberties it takes and the additions it makes. But I resolved this in my mind by keeping the book and movie in separate compartments. Each has a high enjoyability factor in its own right.
The book is set in late 1930's England and includes the start of World War II, but the war does not figure prominently in most chapters. Each chapter is a three- to four-page vignette about the various people, places, and happenings in the life of the Miniver family. Housekeeping and housewifely concerns predominate, which delight me but I know are not everyone's cup of tea. Mrs. Miniver and Christmas shopping, Mrs. Miniver and the domestic help, Mrs. Miniver and dinner parties, Mrs. Miniver and family outings ~ each chapter gives the reader a fuller picture of the life of the Miniver family.
Jan Struther writes with great insight and craftsmanship. I found her writing to be thoughtful, fluid, witty, and elegant. Her observations of human nature and its dealings across the spectrum of life experiences ~ everything from petty annoyances to serious strife ~ show that she was an intelligent, understanding, and sympathetic author. She has earned my respect.
Something that amused me about my edition is that despite the blurb on the title page stating that the book was produced under wartime conditions and complied with government regulations for the conservation of paper, there is so much blank space in it! Each chapter has its own title page taking up both sides of a page so that except for the title they are completely empty. Also, the margins are quite wide. Before I opened it I expected the print to run from edge to edge both vertically and horizontally, but such is not the case. There is a good inch of emptiness all the way around the print. I wonder what books not produced under wartime conditions were like?
Mrs. Miniver has gained a permanent place on my bookshelves. About four chapters in, I placed it on my mental list of comfort reading. I'm sure I will re-read it many times.
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