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The Real Mrs Miniver Hardcover – 8 Nov 2001
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This is a perfect biography, an utterly marvellous book, (Valerie Grove)
'The Real Mrs Miniver' is a crsytalline work of art ... a compelling story, tragic but at the same time mysteriously joyful. (A.N.Wilson)
The film Mrs Miniver, starring Greer Garson, was a wartime classic. It took America by storm and won five Oscars. Written by her granddaughter, this is the story of the life of Jan Struther, the author of the bestselling book that inspired the film.See all Product description
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Mrs. Miniver's creator, however, was far more complicated than her happily-married creation, and in this biography her granddaughter Ysenda Maxtone-Graham brings Anstruther back to life, warts and all. Maxtone-Graham writes with the same ease as her grandmother (who died before she was born) and she vividly evokes Anstruther's Edwardian childhood, pre-war London, and the very different atmosphere of the States, where Anstruther spent the war. "The Real Mrs. Miniver" is an entertaining book but it also can be very dark, especially when treating of Anstruther's depression.
I enjoyed every chapter of this biography, eagerly looking forward to the time when I could next pick it up. I would perhaps recommend reading "Mrs. Miniver" first, as the contented vignettes of that book may, I think, seem tinged with sadness once you know more about their author's life. "The Real Mrs. Miniver" has recently been republished by Slightly Foxed in a beautiful little clothbound hardback.
Before reading this biography I was dimly aware of the character Mrs. Miniver however, what I was completely ignorant of - but thankfully no longer - was the woman behind the perfect mother, housewife and all-round domestic goddess, Joyce Anstruther. Her story, as told by her granddaughter takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, not dissimilar as to how this remarkable woman lived her life.
Throughout this insightful and in-depth tale we are given the chance to get to know the woman behind the mask. A woman who lived her life in extremes, swinging from chronic depression to embracing all-consuming passions. It's refreshing that Ysenda doesn't shy away from detailing the darker aspects to her grandmother's character. The comments about, how Joyce always had to ruin holidays or destroy other people's enjoyment, paints the crueller side to this complex woman.
It was often unbelievable to learn how crazily talented Joyce was. From writing for Punch to penning much loved hymns like, `When a Knight Won His Spurs' - which brought fond memories back of primary school - it is understandable that her life in the shadows of Mrs Miniver was dogged by frustrations. The pressures to become the epitome of this idealised character were keenly felt under the glare of the needs of the British war efforts resulting in a polarisation between her heart and her head. Not to mention the `jungles' that hounded her in later life.
The aspect I loved most about the way the book was written was that Ysenda had included frequent extracts of Joyce's own poetry, diary entries and witticisms. The most notable being a reference to the musician Bach and the fact `he's so alright making.' Her comments are sometimes quite acerbic but always hit the nail on the head in a unique and often amusing style. This is in direct contrast to her letters to her lover (and later husband) Adolf Placek which are full to the brim of effusive declarations of love. These inclusions both entertain and offer a greater insight into the shifting mindset of this woman.
In short this is a fascinating and beautifully written piece of work and in fact is the best biography that I have ever read.
Being born in 1947,I was brought up by my parents with stories of the war years which I found so exciting.tales of the Anderson shelters,
Blackout Curtains made out of dyed blankets,my parents serving in the army and meeting in Germany after the war,so a film like Mrs Minerva was a must for me.
I found it a very enjoyable book but I think one has to be a bit of a Mrs Minerva fan to enjoy it.
The comparisons between the actual book Mrs Minerva and the American film are wonderful to read.Trust Hollywood to come up with it ,I always thought that Toby in the film should have been put down,it was his horrible american accent,and also the choir in the church that sounder like a Morman choir,Ive never heard the C of E sound like that.
I think Jan Struther had a sense of humour with her writing and it was not until I had read the book that I realised what else she had written.
I have sung Lord of all Hopefullness on many occasion and she had written the words for that.
I was sorry that she had a short life as Im sure she would have written much more.
I shall watch Mrs Minerva again soon and I think see it in a really new light,my one regret is that I had the book Mrs Minerva,the early copy. and it has dissapeared from mt bookshelf!!!.
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Maybe a strange comment for a bio but it shows the extent to which I bought into the Mrs Miniver...Read more