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Mrs Harris Goes to Moscow

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Formerly a small independent publisher, Bloomsbury were enriched beyond what they must have imagined by their astute decision to take a punt on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a children’s book by an unknown author that had already been rejected by several other publishers. And as if all that is not confusing enough, do be careful not to muddle up Mrs Harris Goes To Moscow (1974) with Miss Bagshot Goes To Moscow (1961), written by Anne Telscombe, who is the author of the book reviewed directly before this one in Russia in Fiction’s progress towards 100 reviews. The classic satirical novel'Mrs Harris is one of the great creations of fiction - so real that you feel you know her, yet truly magical as well. If you liked the others, you’ll certainly like this – if you can face reading about Russian collusion in the current environment (it did feel oddly topical). When your choice of fiction is influenced by where it is set, then you can end up reading novels that you would not otherwise have given a second glance to.

The British Foreign Office, helped by a sympathetic Russian diplomat, finally get their act together, and all ends in the way that such easy-reading should. But while it was pleasant to revisit Ada Harris, this book lacked much of the charm of the first two books. And the actual raging toward the Russians and Moscow in this book is so disrespectful I was shocked. Ever the loyal servant, however, Mrs Harris (accompanied by her loyal friend Mrs Butterfield) believes it only right that others benefit from her good fortune as well.

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Harris, the two London ladies are incorrectly taken for spies and get into some very compromising situations. By a series of miscommunications, mistaken identities, and misunderstandings of what ‘char lady’ could possibly mean, Mrs Harris and her friend Violet Butterfield (the wonderful Vi, who wants none of the adventures that Mrs H seems to thrive on) are believed to be spies by the KGB and believed to be aristocracy by others high up in Russia. See the Golden Carriage in the Kremlin, the mummy of the great god Lenin and the relics of the Czar. During his stint there, he was sent to cover the training camp of Jack Dempsey, and decided to ask Dempsey if he could spar with him, to get an idea of what it was like to be hit by the world heavyweight champion.The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. All in all, if you like farce then it's worth giving it a go, but it feels like this is a book whose time has passed. Nancy Mitford wrote a short diary of her time in Russia, it’s in The Water beetle if you fancy another look at Russia.

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