Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I am boring. Not boring as in when H pointed to the local hospital and told his twin S that he was "boring there". To which S replied, "I know. I was boring there too and I saw you." I mean staid boring. I like convention. I like good storytelling written in words not in pictures. I like good writing that allows me to discover and doesn't tell me everything. Sometimes this means that a large, big questions kind of novel like The Surrendered is what I am reading and adoring and sometimes it is a small scale slice of a kind of life that never really was charmer like Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
Major Pettigrew has retired to Edgecombe St. Mary. He is an upright, do the right thing, lover of literature and widower. To the village he is all that is good about the green and pleasant land incarnate and he's a catch. In a vulnerable moment after the sudden death of his younger brother Bertie he receives the help of Mrs Ali. She is the owner of the local food shop, a lover of literature and a widow. Their friendship starts to bloom into love. Alas there are problems. Problems with relatives, inheritances and the village. Although the Major was born in Pakistan and Mrs Ali was born in Cambridge the village sees color and class and a romance just isn't going to fly. between their Major and the outsider.
This book is convention from end to end and I loved it. Major is packed to the gills with charm, doing the right thing, humor and wonderful storytelling. First time author Helen Simonson has written a fresh as a daisy old fashioned novel. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith, Barbara Pym, John Mortimer and The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie will delight in The Major's Last Stand. I want Ms Simon's next book to be done tomorrow and in my hands the next day.