Monday, January 17, 2011

Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen Simonson

If ever a book was judged by its cover, it was this one with me. I took one look at its nice array of teacups etc and thought... old fashioned, stodgy, boring and decided I wouldn't be touching it and then I saw Carol Beu review it on her shops website and I was intrigued, so much so that I ran to the nearest bookshop and grabbed a copy.

What a treasure, what a delight! Set in a small English Village it is so richly written that you feel as if you are right there watching and listening to everything that transpires in this Love Story that will reduce you to tears at the end. The Major, Mrs Ali, Grace, Daisy, Alec, Alma, Lord Debenham, Gertrude and all the assortment of finely drawn characters make this the kind of book that you don't want to finish, to leave it seems sinful.

Not everything is nice however. The Majors son Roger is a first class tosser and so with many of their prejudices are most of the Villagers and yet without exception redemption does occur and love in all its honesty prevails, this is not Mills and Boon, the shear intelligence of the Author ensures that the expected or the cliched does not make an appearance, humour and wit are very well used in this page turner as is the nuance of actually having and sticking to standards old fashioned or not, choosing right over wrong.

There are twists and turns and the path can be winding. I particularly liked how she added such an acerbic bite to the gentlemanly words of the Major, he skewered his prey in such a restrained, yet forceful manner. The book is layered in wonderful descriptions of the English Countryside, the complexity of modern life is intwined with a simplicity that is still possible should you be up for it. This is a book that leaves you with a rare warmth and with a real appreciation for dignity, integrity, compassion and understanding. The Major is very cool indeed and so is Mrs Ali.

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