The original 1958 novel about a London ‘salt of the earth’ cleaner who is destined to leave her chores and travel to Paris to fulfil her dream - that is to own a Dior dress. Nostalgic fairytale read with an (almost) happy ending.
- best book club reads -
MRS HARRIS GOES TO PARIS
BY PAUL GALLICO
‘Mrs Harris Goes to Paris’ by Paul Gallico is a short charming story that has recently inspired a new romantic ‘feel good’ film starring Lesley Manville. Responding to the 4 star reviews, the Den pick out the original 1958 novel as its missed opportunity read about a London ‘salt of the earth’ cleaner who is destined to leave her chores and travel to Paris to fulfil her dream - that is to own a Dior dress. A nostalgic fairytale read for book clubbers looking for an (almost) happy ending.
Ada Harris of Battersea is a widowed London charlady who falls in love with one of her client’s dresses and decides her mission and destiny is to own a Dior dress, which in post war Britain was £450 - equivalent to Ada’s total annual income. Mrs Harris initially has some good fortune playing the football pools, taking her chances to win and gamble her savings. However she soon realises that luck was not enough and that determination and two years of hard work would be the only way to raise the funds.
Paul Callico’s novel takes the reader on Ada’s journey from her humble working class life in London in which she cleans tirelessly for her Belgravia clients. Having put in the hard graft, the reader enjoy’s Ada's first adventure to the Continent, flying on BAOC to the glamorous and exotic city of Paris. Placing Mrs Harris in a foreign setting, the reader is entertained by her journey and the reactions that she elicits from her Parisian counterparts working at The House of Christian Dior. As well as encountering snobbery and facing her own challenges alone in a foreign city, Mrs Harris is cast as an unexpected fairy godmother who oversees a romance and brings good fortune with her outspoken brashness and objectivity.
Gallico crafts a punchy story and the Den was not too surprised to discover that many of his novels such as ‘The Snow Goose’ and 'The Poseidon Adventure' were adapted and scripted for films. This is a delectable chocolate box read and for some of us it was inevitably too sweet and predictable although we all agreed it was a novel that could be easily consumed in one sitting and enjoyed as a historical time piece of 1950s Britain, travelling abroad and crossing the class barriers and cultural settings. And there is a bonus in the latest paperback edition as it also features 'Mrs Harris Goes to New York'!