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Dorothy Gilman, Mrs. Pollifax on Safari

I heard belatedly that author Dorothy Gilman died. So I've started re-reading the first of hers I ever read, Mrs. Pollifax on Safari, which remained one of my favorites. Mrs. Pollifax is an older woman, a widow, who lives in New Jersey and raises geraniums. In an earlier book, she decided she needed more excitement and volunteers with the CIA. Of course her simple courier job goes awry. By the time this book starts, she's begun to take karate lessons. She's delightful, with a belief in the niceness of all sorts of people. It's not a series for cynics.

I knew the Africa bits would be dated, but I confess I still find the book kind of charming. When she learns she's to go on safari, for instance, instantly she wants a cork helmet. Though, so far, the black characters in Africa have been less stereotypical than I feared.

Here's a non-Africa bit that I found hilarious in its datedness:

"Set up the computer, Bishop, will you? We'll run through the possibilities."

"It'll only take a minute, sir." Bishop walked over to the closet where the machine they referred to as the Monster was housed. He punched MASTER LIST, fiddled with knobs, fed it classifications like Africa, Zambia and Tourist and called to his superior. "Here you are, sir. Beginning with A, right down to Z."

"Always reminds me of a damn slot machine," growled Carstairs, gazing up at the screen with its myriads of blinking lights....

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
fabricdragon
Feb. 17th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC)
oooooh i loved those books

and yes she wrote surprisingly nuanced characters. women who had careers or were sympathetic even if "not standard" men who had flaws but were not all bad... ethnic minorities that were portrayed as PEOPLE even if a bit oddly by our standards.

and Bishop's bodd (Carstairs?) was a technophobe who hated the changing office. that was pretty obvious....

grin. i have to go re read it.
oracne
Feb. 17th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
I think there were a few towards the end of the series I never read. The last one I recall reading got pretty dark - Mrs. Pollifax endured torture, or something...I remember reading it as a new hardcover from the library.
therck
Feb. 17th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Mrs Pollifax on Safari was the first Gilman I ever read, too. I don't remember what drew me to it. I was in high school and lived in a small town with a small library. The library had a complete collection of Gilman's books. I read a lot of things from that library that I wouldn't have touched given a wider selection of titles. Some of them, like the Mrs Pollifax books, I'm really glad I didn't miss.
oracne
Feb. 17th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I think I bought it at a used bookstore, but most of the others I read came from the library.
logisticslad
Feb. 17th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
I read a number of the Mrs Pollifax books while growing up and enjoyed them immensely. I'm sorry to hear of Dorothy Gillman's passing. Thanks for evoking good memories!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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