Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struther


Pages: 145

Original date of publication: 1939

My edition: 1993 (Virago)

Why I decided to read: It’s one of the books featured in Ruth Adam’s A Woman’s Place

How I acquired my copy: Online, March 2011

Mrs. Miniver is a novel and collection of essays that focuses on the day-to-day life of a 1930s housewife. The “chapters” are more vignettes that focus on the trivial events of Mrs. Miniver’s life: visits to the dentist’s, the changing of the seasons, holidays with her husband, an architect, and their three children, and Christmas shopping.

All of this sounds, boring, but it’s not. Jan Struther describes Mrs. Miniver’s life poetically, with emphasis on the little details. The essays are a reflective look into the thoughts and feelings of one inter-war housewife (although the story is told in the third person). There’s no plot or character development, but Mrs. Miniver describes her lifelife exquisitely. There’s also a subtle undercurrent of humor to this book, although it’s not quite as laugh-out-loud as DE Stevenson’s Mrs. Tim books or Henrietta’s War, by Joyce Dennys. On the other hand, though, Mrs. Miniver makes some really insightful comments on a wide variety of topics—everything from the impending war to her love of engagement books. There’s not much in the way of plot to this book, but nonetheless, it’s quite wonderful.

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