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Mrs. Miniver Paperback – March 19, 1990
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About the Author
Jan Struther was the pen name of Joyce Anstruther, later Joyce Maxtone Graham and finally Joyce Placzek (June 6, 1901 – July 20, 1953), an English writer remembered for her character Mrs. Miniver and a number of hymns, such as "Lord of All Hopefulness".
She was the daughter of Henry Torrens Anstruther and spent her childhood in Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire, England. An unhappy marriage to Anthony Maxtone Graham led to an affair with Adolf Placzek, a Viennese art historian 12 years her junior. After emigrating to the United States, the pair married in 1948.
In the 1940s Struther was a frequent guest panelist on the popular American radio quiz show Information Please, where she provided a warm and witty presence. She was one of the few women panelists to appear repeatedly on the program. In a possibly apocryphal story by fellow panelist Oscar Levant, Struther's appearances on the show stopped abruptly after she answered a question by referring to Agatha Christie's book Ten Little Niggers, which was the original British title of the book Ten Little Indians (later retitled And Then There Were None). Struther was supposedly so hurt and surprised by the backlash to her reference that she refused to appear on the show again. As well as the creation of the character Mrs Miniver in a fortnightly column in The Times, Struther is remembered for her hymns for children, including "Lord of All Hopefulness", "When a Knight Won His Spurs" and "Daisies are Our Silver". These resulted from an approach by Canon Percy Dearmer of Westminster Abbey, who in 1931 was commissioned by Oxford University Press to compile a collection of hymns. Ironically, Struther herself was an agnostic, and an unenthusiastic church-goer.
Struther is the subject of a biography, The Real Mrs. Miniver, written by her granddaughter, Ysenda Maxtone Graham. ISBN 0-7195-5541-8
She is the great-aunt of Ian Maxtone Graham, former co-executive producer of The Simpsons.
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Top Customer Reviews
We don't even learn the first name of the lead character until the very end of the book. She is always Mrs. Miniver, and her husband is always Clem. The Minivers are close, but they don't ever act intimate.
Even though the essays are in the third person (except for the letter at the end where we learn her first name), this is one of the most intimate looks into a woman's mind I have ever read. The author's love of language and the details of daily life are revealed through the thoughts of this delightful character.
The essays were published in the Times every two weeks for the two years leading up to the British entry into World War II. Although the preparations for war are discussed in later essays, they mostly deal with the everyday lives of this typical middle class family. The essays became a symbol of the essence of British life and were published in book form as the war began. The US edition includes an additional essay where Mrs. Miniver prepares her first Christmas shopping list of the war.
The American cinema made an Oscar-winning movie with the same title starring Greer Garson, but the plot of the movie has nothing to do with the subject of these brief disconnected short stories. This is a wonderful book that I will cherish for a long time. Highly recommended.