Aha Moment: ‘The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax'

Studio 360
“The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax” inspired Maureen Sestito to pursue her dreams.

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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