Can't imagine why I bought this -- I don't care for 'spy' stories, and of late, I've been staying away from anything narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. But buy it I did -- and yesterday was the day when I couldn't skip it anymore on my iPod list, so I listened. And you know what? I liked it!
It's not a real traditional "spy" story -- that helped. You don't need to remember the names of legions of foreign assassins or try to figure out who's a double agent and who isn't. To my delight, Mrs. Pollifax didn't know where they keep Albania anymore than I did, and it didn't bother either of us one little bit.
Instead, this is sort of a simple -- albeit absurd -- tale of Mrs. Pollifax, a "elderly widow" (careful there! She's said to be in her mid-60's) who is finding life among the garden clubs and tea parties somewhat boring, so she decides to volunteer to help the CIA wherever they might need her. Through a mistake -- of course -- she's hired to be a low-key courier, which is supposed to involve a relaxed trip to Mexico, where on a specified day, she will go to a particular bookstore and ask for a particular book, then bring home the packet she will be given.
It doesn't, of course, work out that way. Instead, she is captured, drugged and flown off to foreign parts, having been identified early on. Kept under lock and key in a dungeon sort of place with a couple of other much more experienced foreign agents, she's losing hope of ever surviving this adventure. Until she simply decides that she will survive it -- and so she does. (Not a spoiler -- there are 13 more books that follow.)
But at that point, the book takes a turn into what can only be described as utter fantasy -- for us baby boomers, anyway. In order to escape this remote prison in Albania, Mrs. Pollifax and her companions engage in a series of physical escapades that few Iron Man Triathlon participants could conquer. They scale sheer rock walls, clinging to out-hanging roots and handholds, she crawls 3-4 miles on her hands and knees, pretending to be part of a flock of sheep, she rides donkeys, they sail across a major body of water, raft down other parts on a fallen log -- on and on, feats of endless physical derring-do, all without benefit of sleep, food or water. Or training. For days on end.
It's a little much -- but it is endlessly entertaining. It's well done, even though it leaves one feeling seriously outclassed in the physicality department.
And as for the narrator, this was recorded in 2011, so it must have been before Barbara Rosenblat became.. well, before she became Barbara Rosenblat, that annoying narrator who feels the need to act out each and every part, to the extreme, and to munch on something all the way through each narration, which drives me completely bonkers. In other words, it's Barbara Rosenblat back when she was just about the best female narrator around -- which makes listening to her a pleasure all by itself.
Good book! I may not go for any more of them, but at least this one wasn't a mistake.
On first encountering Mrs. Polifax you expect her to be another Miss Marple, an observer who summarizes the major plot points for the reader and reveals the killer after a string of seemingly unrelated actions. Well, hurrah for Mrs. Polifax, (picture your great aunt Sadie), who takes command of the story and doesn't let go until the end. No couch potato is she in this espionage tale. I was surprised at the brisk pace of the story. Set during the early years of the cold war, it was interesting to realize how little the world has changed, the players have merely shifted. But at the some time how the power struggles have morphed from the days of the Red Scare to today's well armed terrorist organizations.
The characters felt real for the period, even the CIA operatives and the bad guys. I enjoyed the narrator for the most part, though her American male characters all sounded the same. And a character we meet later in the book who is Chinese sounded more like a person from India. Other than those small quibbles, I enjoyed the book and plan several return trips to visit Mrs. Polifax.
This is a book series I've enjoyed for years and have read, listened, and retold for a long while now. Now here on audible I can listen to them whenever I want
Loved the plot, the action, the quirky and fun characters. The narrator was superb. Have listened to Barbara Rosenblat before and enjoy her style very much
I don't remember adding this to my library. I was looking for something for a short trip and started listening. I loved every minute. Fun and funny. Narrator is outstanding. When it was over I was sad, but quickly revived after learning there are more! I can't wait to continue with Mrs. Pollifax's adventures.
Amusing, suspenseful, colorful....a lovely way to while away the hours of a long trip. Now, on to book 2/10. As a woman in my 70's it does my heart good to "read" story about a contemporary. I am always amused when books written about the '60's are considered historical fiction.
This book took me by surprise. It was so much fun to listen to! Mrs. Pollifax is so endearing and hilarious. The characters and story are well developed. It has just the right amount of suspense and adventure. The narrator is fantastic. She gives Mrs. P a delightful and mischievous personality with her voice. It was a great way to pass a long commute and my lunch hour.
While the story and its characters may fall into somewhat predictable directions, it is charming and enjoyable. Lovely to have a story about an older woman and to see the world through her eyes and feel the pain and humiliation of being thought irrelevant and unimportant in the whole of the workings of the world and then to prove the world wrong.
If you don't want to be bothered by a strong realistic story then this book is for you! I like flights of fancy just as much as the next person but this story was so far fetched that I kept wondering when it would end. The story was quite amusing and harrowing in places - but just not enough substance for my taste.