I read this at the end of February this year, on the recommendation of a good friend’s father. If this is any indication, I’d say he has great taste.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
What a wonderful, lovely, thoroughly enjoyable book! This story is a rare and much-needed departure from the mediocrity of most contemporary fiction. The author’s tongue-in-cheek social commentary smacks of a modern Jane Austen, and her well-intentioned but endearingly flawed characters are as comfortable and familiar as those of Alexander McCall Smith.
Simonson gives us a clear-eyed, unapologetic look at how people truly think and interact (in the context of the full spectrum of life experiences), which makes the characters so real and relatable. This is not just a love story, but a story about pursuing happiness despite the deterrent of rigid social rules, fighting for love at all costs, overcoming bigotry, learning who your friends are, discovering your own self, and learning to love your family as they are. This is a tall order for any story, but it was managed with skill and subtlety.
On top of all this warmth-inducing content, the book was excellently written in terms of technique and style.
These are not qualities you often find in one novel. That makes Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand essential reading, in my opinion, and well deserving of a place on anyone’s bookshelf. I plan on buying my own copy after reluctantly returning this one to the library, so that I can read it as many times as I want – and maybe even lend it out to a few trustworthy friends.
I would like to add one thing at this point, which I did not address yet, and that is that I will do my best to avoid including information in my reviews that could be considered a “spoiler.” If I really just cannot resist revealing key plot points in a review, I will make sure to issue a clear warning in the beginning of the post. I’ll also try to keep my posts generally inoffensive, but hey, you can’t please everyone.