The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman

Sometimes, achieving a childhood dream can take you to the strangest of places…

Mrs Emily Pollifax (of New Brunswick, New Jersey)is at a bit of a loose end. Long since widowed, her children grown and gone, she doesn’t see much reason or meaning in her life. Oh, sure, she volunteers for various worthy causes and is active in the local Garden Club, but none of it is terribly enjoyable any more. But one day, asked if there was ever anything she had truly wanted¬†to do, she admits that she’s always had a secret desire to be a spy.

Then it hits her: why not? Why couldn’t she be a spy? So she packs a bag and travels down to Langley, Virginia, and presents herself to the CIA as a volunteer. No one there is entirely sure what to do about it–after all, who volunteers for a job as a spy? But the unorthodox head of the most unorthodox department takes one look at her and realizes that she’s exactly what he needs.

The assignment is simple: Travel to Mexico and play tourist, and on a certain day go into a certain bookshop to pick up a package of some sort. So simple, in fact, that it quickly goes very, very wrong.

I want to be Mrs Pollifax when I grow up. She’s amazing–elderly and inexperienced, she takes on trained spies, double agents, and evil men–and wins, on her terms, and makes the unlikeliest of friends along the way.

An enjoyable romp through Mexico and [spoiler redacted], the Unexpected Mrs Pollifax is an engaging spy novel that reminds us all that maybe, just maybe, our childhood dreams aren’t as impossible as we think.

Favorite Line:

I don’t know what country you work for, General Perdido, but your taxpayers would certainly have every right to be furious if they knew.

Don’t read if:¬†you have anything against flowered hats, sinister shopkeepers with gold teeth, talking parrots, or goats.