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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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Finding a new novel that is thoughtful and intellectually stimulating is always a summer treat. Jane Austen has been gone a long time. Finding a novel that deals with grief and aging sounds depressing, but in the hands of a skilled author it can be healing, as the central character, retired Army Major Ernest Pettigrew, finds a way to live again after his beloved wife's death. Can there be love a second time? The characters in Helen Simonson's prose are challenged to stretch and grow as their core values and principles are challenged. The reader is also challenged.

Simonson is an author who can skillfully use a rich vocabulary to paint a complex three-dimensional picture: a charming English village, very real twenty first century racial problems between descendants of long-time residents and Pakistani immigrants, intergenerational misunderstandings and reconciliations, religious tensions and even city development problems. Some have compared her dry humor to P.G. Wodehouse. This is a rare find. The characters are entirely believable and not all are likable. If one is looking for a modern book as far from fast-action thrillers, sexual exploitation and bad language as possible, this is an excellent choice.

Like a famous racehorse, the novel is a bit slow to get out of the gate but accelerates to a dizzying speed and ends a winner. This is Simonson's first novel but she has already mastered capturing the reader's interest and holding it to the satisfying end. Recommended. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Virginia S. @ MPL Central


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 29, 2011 8:23 AM.

The previous post in this blog was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

The next post in this blog is The Wolverine Way by Douglas Chadwick (c2010).

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