Have I told y’all how much I like my work colleagues? Well I do. They are such lovely, funny, cool, interesting people. Work Jenny is the one who alerts us all to things like the Treats Truck, free ice cream, Puppy Bowl, and news stories featuring hot Navy SEALS (“Guys, this is a tragedy, but this guy’s back is out of control); and she lent me Major Pettigrew Lives for a Day’s Last Stand (look, that is confusing right there, don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s made that mistake) after I expressed a passing interest in reading it.
The eponymous Major Pettigrew is a widower with one son; his brother has just died, and his sister-in-law is eager to sell the swords that were the Pettigrews’ legacy from their father. He strikes up an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Ali, a widow and shopwoner who likes the same books he does (excellent basis for a friendship!). His son is a snob and a social opportunist; her nephew wants her to leave the shop and spend the rest of her life caring for elderly relatives. They have a lot to talk about.
Work Jenny pronounced this book charming, and charming indeed it is. Simonson possesses a skill that I particularly admire of imbuing small things with enormous emotional significance, so the reader aches when other characters tromp all over the small thing. I like to be thinking, If you only knew, though! (in accents of agony) to the brash, careless (but not necessarily bad-hearted) characters who are inadvertently hurting our protagonists. And there is plenty of that in Major Pettigrew.
I did feel, though, that some of the trompy characters were drawn with too-broad strokes. The American developer for one, and some of the more unpleasant people in Major Pettigrew’s village of Edgecombe St. Mary’s, and in particular Major Pettigrew’s son Roger. Roger was really too rotten to be true. Having said this, I will add that some of the characters I initially thought were drawn too broadly, like Roger’s girlfriend and Mrs. Ali’s nephew, Abdul Wahid, were given some interiority as the book progressed. So it may be that the ones who stayed broad just never happened to get their moments of sympathy in. I mean it is possible they had a life outside the book, but Simonson never gave us a glimpse. (Alas!)
Generally a book of great charm and rather melancholy sweetness. I would have it for dessert but wouldn’t dine upon it as a main course. A girl needs a sweet rich dessert sometimes.
The other book reviews are too numerous to enumerate! I refer you as ever to the Book Blogs Search Engine.