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At the very beginning of a new book, I stumbled over this:

The context sentence:

The flying lessons were courtesy of her husband, who was the town’s First Selectman.

The problem sentence:

Although of the opinion that if God had wanted man to fly, He would have given him wings, Andy was an extremely coaxable man, and eventually Claudette had gotten her way.

What puzzled me on the first read was the preposition of after the conjunction although, and it wasn't immediately that I understood that it subordinates to Andy and the part which seems to be missing in the sentence is "Although (being/he was) of the opinion that..., (he) Andy was..."

Having grasped that only intuitively, I'm still at a loss for the explanation of the grammar construction used in the sentence (what I should look for in grammar books).

Would it make any difference if the sentence began with "despite" instead of "although":

"Despite the opinion that if God had wanted man to fly, He would have given him wings, Andy was an extremely coaxable man, and eventually Claudette had gotten her way"?*

What might the author mean to stress by using the "although of the opinion"? That Andy, in particular, was among (the few) those who do share the opinion? Or that he was an exception from (the most) those who do not? Or whatever else?

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We can be of a mind to... or "of the opinion that...".

It means we are inclined to think or believe or do something, or that we hold the opinion.

I am of a mind to tan your hide. Although of a mind to do so, I will let you off this one time.

I am of the opinion that children should be taught to sing from an early age.

Although Andy's opinion was that if God had wanted man to fly, He would have given him wings, he was a coaxable man, and Claudette had eventually gotten her way....

The locution of the opinion when coming from a character's mouth, directly or indirectly (as here), is a characterization that can imply the person is opinionated or is one who is all too willing to opine. In the iconographic representation of such a fellow, he will often have his thumbs tucked under his lapels or suspenders as he pontificates.

P.S. The collocation is one often used in formal contexts, for example, when a court of law renders a legal opinion. "The court is of the opinion..." and therefore when it is used in informal contexts, it can seem to aggrandize the opinion.

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