Of all my favorite novels, Mrs. Miniver is undoubtedly the worst.
The characters are pleasant, but not memorable.
It doesn’t have a plot; Jan Struther’s chapters were originally printed as short stories in The Times of London, and they remain short stories.
The writing is good, but not brilliant.
Despite all those flaws, I usually spend New Year’s Day reading Mrs. Miniver.
The Minivers are an intelligent, cultured, fundamentally decent couple. As a second world war becomes inevitable, the household gets gas masks, the children are evacuated to safer schools, Clem joins the anti-aircraft corps, his wife signs on as an ambulance driver.
In a topsy-turvy world, the Miniver household is emotionally stable and comfortable. The Minivers don’t dwell on worst-case scenarios. They concentrate on looking for something good today to be thankful for. Even the youngest, Toby, lugging his Teddy bear as he goes to be fitted for his gas mask, finds something to chuckle about.
Without preaching, Mrs. Miniver reminds us of the debt each person owes to the world, and shows that the most ordinary human interaction can be an extraordinary blessing if we allow it to be.
By Jan Struther
Harcourt, Brace 1940
My grade: B-
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni