Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
The Short Take:
This thoroughly delightful dramedy of manners with its witty writing and wicked sense humor was a joy to read. I did think there was a bit more plot that it needed, but with so much to enjoy who am I to complain?
This book came out over a year ago but I just recently got my mitts on it. Set in the the present day English countryside, it revolved around the 68-year-old title character and his relationships with his son and the widowed Mrs. Ali who runs a local handy mart.
What sets this book apart are the wry observations, both spoken and thought, of Major Pettigrew. A scrupulously proper gentleman himself, he is quick to note the failings of others but his reactions are so amusing that you just fall in love with him.
You could almost call Simonson’s first novel a worthy homage to Jane Austin’s brilliant works, with their sly comments on society and manners. That alone is a good enough reason to pick up this book.
A Little Plot:
Just as Major Pettigrew learns his younger brother has suddenly died, Mrs. Ali arrives at his doorstep to collect money for the ailing paperboy. The next thing you know she is helping the Major deal with his loss and the two discover they share a love of literature.
The Major also has a very shallow, self-centered son who darts in and out of his life, usually in a way Major Pettigrew finds quite embarrassing. Plus Mrs. Ali’s in-laws want her to hand over the shop to a nephew. And, of course, no one in the area is too thrilled about the Major keeping company with a Pakistani woman. Complications of all sorts ensue.
Kudos to Helen Simonson for her lovely first book. If you want to more know about her, click here.