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The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (reviewed by Samantha_kathy)

Reviews reviewed

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1Samantha_kathy
Jan 7, 2011, 8:57am Top

Read two books of this series in one sitting, so I've posted both reviews to this group. Sorry to flood you so, but I just couldn't put them down!

Review

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman – 4.5 stars

Mrs. Pollifax, a grandmother in her sixties, is feeling depressed. Her doctor recommends she finds a hobby, something fun to fill her life with. She has always wanted to be a spy, so she sets out to the CIA headquarters to enlist.

Due to a bit of luck, she’s hired for a simple job where they are in need for an amateur to courier a package. Unfortunately, the simple job turns out much more dangerous than expected. Mrs. Pollifax is kidnapped and must use all her creativity to escape and get back to the USA safely.


Set during the Cold War, when the communists of both Russia, China and Cuba were considered a real threat against the USA, this book was simply delightful. It was humorous, but also tension filled. I’d classify this book as a cozy spy novel, which is not something I thought I’d ever get to say.

One of the things I most liked about the book was that we also got to see some of Mr. Carstairs. He’s one of the higher CIA operatives and Mrs. Pollifax’s boss. Gilman managed to make him and the position he was in seem very real. He was prepared to accept loses of life without being callous, a very fine balance to create.

A downside to the book at first was that Mrs. Pollifax had a little bit too much luck. This was explained satisfactory and with a surprising twist near the end though, which made it one of the better points of the book. In the end, the only real downside to the book for me was that I knew where the microfilm was practically from the moment Mrs. Pollifax got kidnapped, so that bit of the ending was not very surprising to me.

All in all, I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. I’m very eager to read the rest of the series.

2Jenni_Canuck
Jan 7, 2011, 10:20am Top

A couple of minor things:

Para#1
sentence 1: no comma needed between “War, when”
last sentence: no comma needed between “novel, which”

Para#2
last sentence:
“accept loses” should be “accept losses”

3Samantha_kathy
Jan 7, 2011, 11:50am Top

Thanks, I corrected those mistakes:

Mrs. Pollifax, a grandmother in her sixties, is feeling depressed. Her doctor recommends she finds a hobby, something fun to fill her life with. She has always wanted to be a spy, so she sets out to the CIA headquarters to enlist.

Due to a bit of luck, she’s hired for a simple job where they are in need for an amateur to courier a package. Unfortunately, the simple job turns out much more dangerous than expected. Mrs. Pollifax is kidnapped and must use all her creativity to escape and get back to the USA safely.


Set during the Cold War when the communists of both Russia, China and Cuba were considered a real threat against the USA, this book was simply delightful. It was humorous, but also tension filled. I’d classify this book as a cozy spy novel which is not something I thought I’d ever get to say.

One of the things I most liked about the book was that we also got to see some of Mr. Carstairs. He’s one of the higher CIA operatives and Mrs. Pollifax’s boss. Gilman managed to make him and the position he was in seem very real. He was prepared to accept losses of life without being callous, a very fine balance to create.

A downside to the book at first was that Mrs. Pollifax had a little bit too much luck. This was explained satisfactory and with a surprising twist near the end though, which made it one of the better points of the book. In the end, the only real downside to the book for me was that I knew where the microfilm was practically from the moment Mrs. Pollifax got kidnapped, so that bit of the ending was not very surprising to me.

All in all, I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. I’m very eager to read the rest of the series.

4jseger9000
Jan 11, 2011, 12:29am Top

Don't worry about overposting. You should see me sometimes.

In the third paragraph, first sentence: You shouldn't use 'both' when you mention three countries. You could just cut the word, no need to replace it. Actually, you could just shorten it as ...when the communists were considered a real threat...

Fourth paragraph, first sentence: we also got to see some of Mr. Carstairs reads funny to me. I felt like I should already know who Mr. Carstairs was.

Fifth paragraph, second sentence. I think 'satisfactory' should be 'satisfactorily'. Also, the sentence reads funny. Either 'and' or 'though' should be dropped. They seem to be saying the same thing.

Actually, the sentence reads funny regardless. You might want to split it or something.

5Samantha_kathy
Jan 11, 2011, 8:45am Top

Fixed the mistakes and hopefully fixed the funny reading sentences.

Revised review:

Mrs. Pollifax, a grandmother in her sixties, is feeling depressed. Her doctor recommends she finds a hobby, something fun to fill her life with. She has always wanted to be a spy, so she sets out to the CIA headquarters to enlist.

Due to a bit of luck, she’s hired for a simple job where they are in need for an amateur to courier a package. Unfortunately, the simple job turns out much more dangerous than expected. Mrs. Pollifax is kidnapped and must use all her creativity to escape and get back to the USA safely.


Set during the Cold War when the communists were considered a real threat against the USA, this book was simply delightful. It was humorous, but also tension filled. I’d classify this book as a cozy spy novel which is not something I thought I’d ever get to say.

One of the things I most liked about the book was that we also got to see Mr. Carstairs, one of the higher CIA operatives and Mrs. Pollifax’s boss. Gilman managed to make him and the position he was in seem very real. He was prepared to accept losses of life without being callous, a very fine balance to create.

A downside to the book at first was that Mrs. Pollifax had a little bit too much luck. This was explained satisfactorily with a surprising twist near the end. It ended up being one of the better points of the book. In the end, the only real downside to the book for me was that I knew where the microfilm was practically from the moment Mrs. Pollifax got kidnapped, so that bit of the ending was not very surprising to me.

All in all, I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. I’m very eager to read the rest of the series.

6jseger9000
Jan 11, 2011, 9:53am Top

I like it.

I do have a question. When you said you knew where the microfilm was right from the get go, was it because you had foreknowledge or because the author didn't do enough hand waving to hide it?

If you figured it out, you might change I knew where the microfilm was practically from the moment... to I figured out where the microfilm was practically the moment... to show that the author could have done a better job hiding his clues.

7Samantha_kathy
Jan 11, 2011, 4:43pm Top

I figured it out, but I'm wondering if that's just because I'm used to mysteries such as Agatha Christie writes, as she always manages to catch me by surprise. But I'll change the sentence.

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