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Shortly before the Second World War, a column by 'Mrs Miniver' appeared in

THE TIMES, the first of many recounting the everyday events of a middle-class Chelsea family: Mrs Miniver's thrill at the sight of October chrysanthemums; her sense of doom when the faithful but rackety car is replaced; the escapades of Vin, Toby and Judy, her unpredictable young children; visits to the Kent cottage and, as war becomes a reality, the strange experience of acquiring gas masks and the cameraderie of those unsettling early days.

Mrs Miniver enchanted the public with her sympathy and affectionate humour, capturing ordinary lives and values now darkened by war. First published in book form in 1939 and later an enormously successful film, MRS MINIVER became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic -- with Churchill exclaiming that it had done more for the Allied cause than a flotilla of battleships.

Reviews

3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Anne

Bland - pleasant enough but unexciting

This is a book written just before the last war and is the story of a middle class family held together by the title character whose first name is only revealed at the end of the story. This is in the same territory as “Diary of a Provincial Lady” by EM Delafield and anything by Nancy Mitford, Angela Thirkell or Evelyn Waugh – although the difference is that “Mrs Miniver” is not intended to be amusing or satirical. The book was made into an incredibly popular film starring,

if my memory serves me correctly, Greer Garson.

The story, sadly, is bland and unexciting. I’m not really interested in the day to day lives of middle class families at this time except as a matter of social history. The family are happy and have servants. They send their children to boarding school and have picnics and holidays by the sea. They are aware that war is coming and are fitted for gas masks but it hasn’t started by the end of the book. There is no conflict of any sort in the story. The book, and especially the film, are really propaganda for the type of English life lived by only a few but which is held up as what people will fight for – it is difficult to believe that this is the same time period as “The Night Watch” by Sarah Waters which tells a very different story of life before and during the war (although it was written a lot later).

It was a pleasant enough read but I shall not keep this on my shelves and will pass it on.

 
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