The Real Mrs Miniver: The Life of Jan Struther

The film Mrs Miniver , starring Greer Garson, was a wartime classic. It took America by storm and won five Oscars. In Britain, Winston Churchill said that Mrs Miniver did more for the Allied cause than a flotilla of battleships. The book that inspired the film had likewise been a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and its author, Jan Struther, found it hard to persuade people that she herself was not its heroine. There were indeed many similarities between the lovable subject of Struther's book and the woman herself - both were married with three children, both lived a fashionable, well-off life in a wealthy part of London, and both were unexpectedly affected by the Second World War. Yet while Mrs Miniver was happily married, Jan Struther had drifted out of love with her conventional husband and fallen for an erudite Jewish refugee in flight from Nazi Austria to the United States. The post-war years were to bring a mixture of joy and tragedy. The way in which Jan Struther's life unfolded - from society wife to passionate woman in love with a refugee to wordl-famous author - is a microcosm of what the war could do to people. An immensely touching story, this biography of the well-loved author is as moving as the film, as witty as the book and as tragic as woman's life at war can be.