The Story of a London Charlady and a Timeless Dior Dress
In this delightful novel, Paul Gallico takes us back to the late 1950s in Britain, a time when charladies like Mrs Harris were a common sight. These hardworking women made a living by cleaning for middle- and upper-class households. Gallico vividly describes their daily routine, from tackling dirty dishes and rumpled beds to dealing with scattered clothing and cigarette ends. It’s a world that no longer exists, replaced by modern cleaning services and labor-saving devices like robotic vacuums and dishwashers.
Gallico, known for his popular wartime story “The Snow Goose,” is a masterful storyteller. His writing may not be literary, but it captivates with its simple yet heartfelt narratives. “Mrs Harris Goes to Paris” is a sentimental tale that has recently been adapted into a film. The book’s enduring popularity led to its republishing as a film tie-in.
The characters in Gallico’s book are caricatures, each with their distinctive traits. The plot is straightforward, and the protagonist, Mrs Harris, is a lovable and determined woman. Her encounter with a Dior dress changes her life forever. As she gazes at the stunning creations, she experiences a new kind of beauty—a beauty crafted by human hands, designed to captivate a woman’s heart. Mrs Harris, despite her modest life, feels an irresistible urge to own such a garment.
The journey to acquire the dress is not an easy one. Mrs Harris overcomes numerous obstacles, misunderstandings, and unexpected encounters. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships and discovers the warmth and humanity of foreign cultures. She navigates the intricacies of Paris, attends glamorous salon presentations, and revels in the joy of fitting sessions. Mrs Harris’s adventures are both heartwarming and life-changing. The dress becomes more than a mere fashion item; it becomes an embodiment of her newfound confidence and a symbol of her unforgettable experience.
While “Mrs Harris Goes to Paris” may show its age in some outdated attitudes towards class and foreign cultures, it remains a unique and spirited tale. With its colorful descriptions of Paris, stunning dresses, and exciting adventures, it promises an enjoyable and lighthearted film adaptation.
Mrs Harris Goes to New York: A Charming and Unlikely Tale
In “Mrs Harris Goes to New York,” the spirited Mrs Harris and her companion, Mrs Butterfield, embark on a surprising adventure. Their journey begins when they hear a young boy being mistreated by his foster parents in the neighboring house. Determined to rescue him, the two women set off on a voyage to New York aboard the Ville de Paris.
Their eventful trip includes exploring New York City and various parts of America. Mrs Harris’s unwavering determination leads her on a quest to find the missing father of the abandoned boy, convinced that he would welcome his son with open arms. This heartwarming tale is filled with unexpected twists, touching encounters, and moments of laughter.
Paul Gallico continued Mrs Harris’s remarkable journey in two more stories: “Mrs Harris MP” and “Mrs Harris Goes to Moscow.” These novels, still in print today, showcase her enduring popularity and the charm of her character.
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Images: PAUL GALLICO Mrs Harris Goes to Paris. Reviewed by Ann Skea
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