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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Mrs Miniver' - forget the film and read the book, 30 Nov 2001
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This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
I knew that 'Mrs Miniver' was a Hollywood film (made during World War 2 and starring Greer Garson, I believe) but not until very recently did I discover that it was based on a book. An utterly delightful book, written in 1939 by an English woman called Jan Struther. It is less of a novel and more a series of snap-shots - each of two or three pages - about Mrs. Miniver's life and her thoughts on it.
I think that Mrs Miniver's life was as near as can be to Jan Struther's own - both English, middle-class, married with three children, living in London during the outbreak of war in a comfortable home with servants. But do not be put off by thinking that this is very predicable stuff and not worth bothering with. Mrs Miniver has a very particular way of looking at life - perceptive, funny, generous and wise. Never snobbish, quite the opposite in fact. Both Mrs. M and her author shared a zest for life - "an accidental gift, impossible to acquire and almost impossible, thank heaven, to lose."
An enthusiast for life, she describes the everyday, ordinary things - walking through Westminster on the first day of Spring, hop-picking in Kent, Guy Fawkes night,pruning an apple tree, driving to Scotland, buying gas-masks, observing her fellow guests at a dinner-party, Christmas shopping, buying a new diary - but all seen through the eyes of a very perceptive person. Never mundane, Mrs Miniver's world is shared with us in delightful detail.
Mrs. Miniver in the dentists' chair:
"...the refinement of civilised cruelty, this spick, span and ingenious affair of shining leather and gleaming steel, which hoisted you and tilted you and fitted reassuringly into the small of your back and cupped your head tenderly between padded cushions. It ensured for you a more complete muscular relaxation than any armchair you could buy for your own home; but it left your tormented nerves without even the solace of a counter-irritant. In the old days, the victim's attention had at least been distracted by an ache in the back, a crick in the neck, pins and needles in the legs.......But now, too efficiently suspended between heaven and earth, you were at liberty to concentrate on hell."
If you're old enough to remember this era, the book will bring memories flooding back.If you're not, you will enjoy Mrs Miniver not only as social history but also as something which will, hopefully, make you think about life in not quite the same way ever again.
Buy this book, as I have, for your dearest friends - the ones with whom you can talk about "such trifles as love and courage and kindness and integrity and the quite astonishing resilience of the human spirit."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Treasure, 23 April 2009
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This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
Having loved the classic Greer Garson film of the same name, I was very much looking forward to reading the book upon which it was based. Imagine my surprise when I opened the first page to discover that the book is a series of articles based on Mrs. Miniver's largely peacetime life. I hasten to add that this isn't a criticism. What is found in this slim volume is a deeply-layered exploration of Mrs. Miniver's personal beliefs, quiet integrity and dry sense of humour.

Language is something to be treasured and savoured here. Struther plays with words in a way that is, for lack of a better term, delicious. I found myself reading and re-reading segments because of the beautiful way in which they were phrased. The life that the Minivers lead consists of trips to their country home in Kent, dinners with friends, and holiday celebrations, all archly and candidly observed by Mrs. Miniver. The War, while looming on the horizon, does not take over until the very end of the book.

I got this book with the expectation that I'd read about the things I'd seen in the film. What I ended up with was something much different. It takes nothing away from my love of Greer Garson to say that I loved Jan Struther's original stories just as much as the movie that grew out of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'Words were the only net to catch a mood', 15 April 2013
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
"Mrs. Miniver" was first published in 1939 and consists of a several short stand-alone chapters, which present us with vignettes concerning the title character, a wealthy housewife. Mrs. Miniver has a very nice life: her marriage is perfect, her children lovely, and she is surrounded by comforts. This description might make you recall Tolstoy's maxim about happy families and dissuade you from reading more; but Jan Struther's book is so full of warmth and wisdom and her writing is so polished, so apposite, that I loved every word of it. In a passage which might stand for the book as a whole, Struther writes:

"Mrs. Miniver looked towards the window. The dark sky had already paled a little in its frame of cherry-pink chintz. Eternity framed in domesticity. Never mind. One had to frame it in something, to see it at all."

The pieces which make up "Mrs. Miniver" were first published in the Times and as such they provide a vivid insight into the atmosphere in England just before the war. As Mrs. Miniver goes about her business the wider political situation sometimes intrudes: the family get fitted for gas masks, trenches are being dug in the park, and the word 'Jews' is glimpsed in a newspaper headline.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Forget the film if you can., 14 July 2011
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This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
Not that it was a bad film, but the book can be read with or without memories of Greer Garson! Based, in fact, on newspaper articles about the author and her family, this is a great insight into a life now gone. The upper middle classes prior to and during WW2. Who do you know who has servants for their weekend cottage? But don't let that put you off. A little packet of history between these covers, and one to be enjoyed, too.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and well written - but very different from the film, 28 Dec 2008
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John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
A witty and well written novel about middle class family life on the eve of war. However, it is very unlike the film. The latter is mostly set after the outbreak of war, whereas in the book (published just after the outbreak of hostilities) it is hovering in the near future, e.g. buying gasmarks, accepting evacuated children in the country home. The oldest son, Vin, is here only 15 years old, not getting married and becoming a fighter pilot. No tragic death of a daughter-in-law or prize-winning flower contest. Film and book are both very good, but in different ways.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slice of history, 12 July 2013
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Sophie Neville (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mrs Miniver (VMC) (Paperback)
They say that this was the book that so endeared middle America to the British that it brought the US into WWII. A collection of articles written by Jan Struther it gives a unique picture of life in England as it was for readers of the Times in the late 1930s when the people of London were gradually being sucked into the war. Loved back then, It is to be hugely valued as a document of social history as it gives a civilian's perspective on life at the time.
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Mrs Miniver (VMC)
Mrs Miniver (VMC) by Jan Struther (Paperback - 24 Aug 1989)
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