Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson

Major Ernest Pettigrew's world has changed a little too much. His younger brother, Bertie, just died, and he is trying to delicately get something from Bertie's estate that rightfully belongs to him. His son, Roger, is becoming ever-more obsessed with money, appearances and social status, and is making the Major feel as if he's just waiting to be shuffled off to the rest home. His beloved town is under siege by developers. And after years of being a widower, he is starting to develop romantic feelings for Jasmina Ali, the local shopkeeper.

I really enjoyed this book. Helen Simonson, who has spent the last 20 years living in the US after being born and raised in England, has created a terrific little world in the town of Edgecombe St. Mary, with truly memorable characters. Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali make a terrific couple, and even if the story follows a fairly predictable path in many ways, I definitely found myself rooting for them and was quite invested in their relationship. While some of the supporting characters are little more than fleshed-out versions of characters you've seen before, and some of the plot devices are almost farcical, the word that best describes this book is quaint. And that's not a bad thing.

If you enjoy books that seem like throwbacks to a simpler time, this book is definitely one you'll enjoy. It reminded me a little of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society in its charm. Good fun.

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