A successor to The Flying For (1957) which had an admiring critical audience now has the Book-of-the-Month Club (December)...



A successor to The Flying For (1957) which had an admiring critical audience now has the Book-of-the-Month Club (December) to attract wider attention; ticks off the members of a British foreign mission, chooses Slavoni (Poland) in Eastern Europe as against the Far East of the earlier book for its campsite, and achieves a capacious comic novel. As a satirist, Mary McMinnies, who is just as bodkin tongued as Nancy Mitford, has also an equal sophistication of eye and ear for the symptomatic Anglo- Saxon attitudes and inflections, as well as a knowledgeable understanding of the dispossessed aristotacy of a country such as this who live a peripheral, parasitic existence in the ""anti-climax of death"". Her heroine, Milly furdos, has just arrived in Grusnov with her husband, Larry, a member of a British mission, her two young children, and a nanny who represents-along with the post- an ascendant achievement for the Purdoes. Milly is- in her own eyes (and the author's) something of an Emma Bovary; if more self-possessed she is as self-absorbed, wishfully romantic, briskly ambitious, impulsive and impervious- a wife not too satisfied to look elsewhere, a negligent mother. Acquisitively she engages in a surreptitious, thriving traffic in the goods she is able to secure- through Larry's diplomatic status- from England (whiskey, drugs, soaps, etc.) in exchange for native valuables and services; stupidly, she underestimates the calculating assistance of a maid, and the jealous vigilance of the wife of her husband's side; naively, she misjudges her desirability in an attempted affair with a coolly, cynically attractive American correspondent. So that her defeat- which progresses from discomfiture to a larger exposure which costs her her husband's love and this post, in complete and- if only momentarily- crushing.... A leisurely, substantial entertainment devastating and diverting and revealing.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 1958


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1958