Arts

Aha Moment: ‘The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax'

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“The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax” inspired Maureen Sestito to pursue her dreams.

“The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax” inspired Maureen Sestito to pursue her dreams.

Credit:

Evening Read by Roxanne Ready/CC BY-SA 2.0

Maureen Sestito listens to Studio 360 on WHYY from Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Years ago, she was working as a nurse when a colleague suddenly died of a brain tumor. Like Sestito, she was in her early 30s, with kids. “I thought, that could be me. Have I really done what I wanted to do?” she remembers.

Sestito had always wanted to become a doctor, and felt she had missed her chance.

At the time, she was reading “The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax” by Dorothy Gilman, a novel about an elderly woman facing existential despair. Ignoring the reservations of others, Mrs. Pollifax decides to pursue her childhood ambition to become a spy — and quickly finds herself in the CIA.

“If she can be a spy at 80 years old,” Sestito resolved, “I can be a doctor. I’m only 32. And that was it.” 

Excerpts from the novel are read by Rae C. Wright.

(Originally aired January 17, 2014)

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