Monday, April 13, 2015

Paul Gallico - Mrs Harris goes to Paris, Mrs. Harris goes to New York

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris & Mrs Harris Goes to New York (The Bloomsbury Group)Mrs Harris Goes to Paris & Mrs Harris Goes to New York by Paul Gallico
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Bought @ Kindle Store,

This is a fascinating series by Paul Gallico. The books read like young adult books. They are written in simple prose that should appeal to younger readers.

Yet, the heroine of the series is not a young person. She is a 60 year old charwoman in London, Mrs. Ada Harris. She is a wrinkled old woman with the spirit of a 16 year old. She is forever ready to go off on a new adventure. She gets into frightful muddles, yet survives them to come out on top. This is the London of mid to late 1950s.

What brings her out of her messes is her charm. She never pretends to be anything that she is not. Her dropped aitches, her rough hands and old clothes topped with a battered hat are all a part of her and she does not try to mask herself. She presents herself as she is, and that invariably wins her detractors over. Despite being a charwoman she makes friends with the best of people, the Marquis de Chassagne is a particular friend of hers. The Schreibers, an American couple who employ her, are also in thrall of her.

Her best friend Violet Butterfield lives in a house close by and works as a cook. She likes her life as it is, and is terrified by the adventurous spells of Mrs. Ada Harris. She gets sucked into them at times, but mostly she stands on the sideline feeling timorous.

This book has two adventures of Mrs. Harris. The first one is Mrs. Harris goes to Paris. In this book, Mrs. Harris is bitten by the bug of acquiring a Dior dress, when she spies one in the wardrobe of one of her clients.

How she travels to Paris in quest of one, gets into a scrape and how she manages to come out it, constitutes the story of this book.

In Mrs. Harris goes to New York, Ada is trying to help an orphan child in her neighbourhood to look for his father. Little Henry Brown's father is an ex-GI living in USA. Mrs. Harris is determined to find him and end the torture that little 'enry is subjected to by his foster parents.

Again, things do not go as Mrs. Harris planned and she winds up putting her near and dear ones in serious trouble. But it is still the end of 1950's and things are simpler.

I read one more in the Mrs. Harris series when I was young. It was called "Mrs. Harris, M.P." and it is just as charming as the rest in the series.

I love these books for their old world charm, the simple language and the way it makes small things in our life so important. A good cup of tea at the end of the day makes Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Butterfield happy. A trip to the 'flicks' is how they like to spend their day off.

Notwithstanding Mrs. Harris's grandiose adventures, the tale is told in a very unassuming style which makes it seem like an young adult novel. Mrs. Harris may well be a girl out of Enid Blyton books who has grown old, but not lost any of her zest for adventures.

The books are precious and worth reading.

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