Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

I returned to this book this past week, as one of the best comfort reads I know. When the world is overwhelming, this series has been one of my best refuges, one of my favourite fictional universes to escape into when I have no energy to go anywhere new. (Other comfort reads include L.M. Montgomery, Robertson Davies and Spider Robinson books.)

Whether it was a few years ago when I was struggling with insomnia and anxiety before my comps, or this past week, when I was all knotted up after one of our cats had two successive seizures, the Mrs. Pollifax books comfort me.

And they're just so much darn fun. Rereading this for the umpteenth time, I enjoyed it as thoroughly as if it had been the first time. She's an elderly spy for the CIA, you see, and these books are wonderful tales of her adventures. They always send her on missions that should be simple and safe, yet never are. And she is always wholly herself as she has to deal with what goes wrong.

In this one, Mrs. Pollifax is sent to a rest spa in France, where alarming chatter gives this charming locale as a potential receiving spot for two recent thefts of plutonium. Once there, she annoys Interpol by seeming more interested in the wellbeing of a young boy than the mysterious Robin Burke-Jones, whose background checks out not a whit. Of course, her instincts are perfectly sound, and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a cat and mouse game with the fate of nuclear materials at stake.

While I never like the circumstances that often drive me back to these books, I love that I know I can pick them up any time and spend some time with an old friend, just when I need the most soothing.


  1. (minor quibble: it's set in Switzerland, not France.)

    (came here via goodreads - currently re-reading and filling in gaps in Mrs P series)

    1. Welcome, Tricia!

      And you're right - I think when I was writing the review, I was thinking of the former Surete officer.