02 October 2010

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I must say i loved this book too! Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is Helen Simonson's first novel. It's full of dry humor and love and relationships and real feelings and tea and reading.

Major Pettigrew is a British widower. The book opens with him in shock as he finds out his younger brother has just died. Mrs. Ali, a widow who runs the nearby grocery shop, just happens to be dropping off some tea for him when he finds out. From this weird circumstance, their friendship grows over a love of reading, family issues, and just "getting" each other. Pettigrew deals with his feelings over his brother's shotgun, one of a pair of his father's that Pettigrew wants to get in his own possession. Roger, Pettigrew's son, is rude, greedy, and completely un-empathetic. Mrs. Ali's husband's family is trying to muscle her out of her own shop through her nephew, Abdul Wahid. It is all a bit of a mess, taking place in a little English village that may become a planned community for landless nobles. The plot is wonderful but the characters are the really great part. And the writing is beautiful.

He offered her a sustained yodel and she sang back to him a phrase or two of a haunting song from her childhood and while the lake lapped at their feet and the mountains absorbed their calls and the sky flung its blue parachute over their heads, he though how wonderful it was that life was, after all, more simple than he had ever imagined.

just writing that down again has made me all teary eyed. It is just such a beautiful passage. This will sound goofy and sappy but those lines so capture what being newly in love is like and it makes me think of B and i just keep grinning.

a 7. Helen Simonson is going to be at the Southern Festival of Books next weekend and I will make it to her panel.

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