When Christmas Day is over and all the relatives have gone home it’s finally time to relax. For me that means curling up with a good book. Several good books. This time of year there’s plenty of food in the fridge and all the jobs are done so I can put my feet up with a clear conscience. With luck there’ll be a week of warm weather and we can head to the beach. A book, a comfy beach chair, surf, sand and sunshine. That’s my idea of heaven. This year my holiday reading will start with an old favourite – Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico. First published in 1957 it’s a book that’s stood the test of time.
MRS HARRIS GOES TO PARIS
It’s a heartwarming story of a London char-lady named Ada Harris who dreams of owning a Dior dress. She’s a Cockney and Gallico captures her and her London clientele perfectly. But it’s in Paris that her adventures really begin. She needs courage to enter the elegant salons of the House of Dior, but Mrs Harris is determined to win her heart’s desire. And from the first moment she meets a cast of characters who are so brilliantly drawn that I still think of them as friends. All different, each very French, they share their lives with the London char and she repays them in her own inimitable way. And then there are the Dior dresses …
DREAMING OF DIOR
For the longest time, I’d re-read Flowers for Mrs Harris but there was always one chapter near the end that I’d skip. As I’ve grown older, I find myself appreciating that chapter more and more. I no longer skip it but read it with gritted teeth because I now recognise its importance in the story. There’s a lot more to this book than meets the eye. A romantic, clever gift of a story with just the right twist. I’ve loved it for years, I retold it to my husband over dinner on our first ever trip to Paris and it undoubtedly inspired my own first novel, The Cinderella Moment. Thank you Mr Gallico. Highly recommended.
It’s worth watching this TV movie just for the recreation of the House of Dior and the 1950s fashion.