Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament, by Paul Gallico


Kittens, think back to when you were in high school. Was there ever someone that you nominated for class office as a complete joke, thinking that that person would never get elected? And what happened when that person wound up getting elected anyway?

Such a thing happens in the third book in the "Mrs. 'Arris" series, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament. Once again, we visit London, and the escapades of a truly remarkable charwoman, one who went to Paris to by a Dior gown, and one who went to New York to reunite a young boy with his father.

The book opens with our heroine engaging in a Thursday night "tea-and-telly" session with her best friend, Mrs. Butterfield, and her gentleman friend, John Bayswater, who was introduced in the novel Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York. The three friends are watching a political roundtable show, and Mrs. Harris is absolutely appalled at what some of the Parlimentarians are saying about the state of their society. She then starts ranting and raving about the state of political affairs in London, and how Parliament members forgot about poor people like her.

The next day, Mrs. Harris is cleaning the flat of one of her clients, Sir Wilmot Corrison. Sir Wilmot is at home with an illness, and Mrs. 'Arris, in addition to cleaning the flat, takes care of what ails him. During this session, she once again launches into her rant and rave about the state of society, based on what she saw on the political roundtable show, and concludes her speech by saying, "Live and let live!"

Sir Wilmot happens to be a politician himself, one who is trying to find a candidate for Parliament. He puts up Mrs. 'Arris's name as a joke, as part of a conspiracy to get another party more seats in Parliament, figuring that no one would ever vote for a charwoman.

He brings Mrs. 'Arris's name to the committee, who offer her the candidacy, and she gleefully accepts, thinking about how she would set the Parliamentarians straight. She is completely naive to Sir Wilmot's plot.

Meanwhile, Bayswater, Sir Wilmot's chauffeur, overhears details of the conspiracy, and decides to reduce any embarrassment his friend may face, by doing a little campaigning of his own.

Long story short, both Sir Wilmot's and Bayswater's ideas backfire badly.

Mrs. Ada Harris, charwoman, gets elected to Parliament.

But it's what happens post-election that makes the book interesting. Roughly half of the book is devoted to Mrs. 'Arris's adventures in Parliament, but they are not very detailed. Gallico's description of the Parliamentary experience is rather vague at best. Still, it's easy to put oneself in Mrs. 'Arris's shoes, as one who thought she was ready to conquer the world, but realizes that she was not really prepared for the job.

As with the other two books, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament is a quick read with some wonderful characters. Although the idea of a charwoman getting elected to Parliament is quite far-fetched, Gallico makes it believable. And as always, you'll want to root for Mrs. 'Arris all the way to the very end.

***This is the latest post in my 100+ Book Challenge, as well as my Support Your Local Library Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the latest updates!***

1 comment:

J. Kaye said...

LOL! I have to laugh at your question. I don't think I ever did that. :) Too funny.