Author: Helen Simonson
Summary: You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of his remarkable novel he will steal your heart.
The major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and traditions?
My Rating: 9/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, Helen Simionson’s writing took me captive for the moment I started to read and kept me divulged into the book until the end. That, combined with a wonderful story and some intruding characters, it was a spectacular book.
The author’s writing style is what really got be hooked to the book. It was so well done and had such a powerful presence it made reading the novel that much more enjoyable. Something about the way the narrative flowed, and how the story was told, really kept me reading. It made the book hard to put down at times. And for the most part I found the story to be an interesting read. I love the relationship with the Major and Jasmina and how it grew through out the book. There was also a great sense of humour throughout the book.
The characters, for the most part, were also well down. I really fell in love with the Major, he was an enjoyable character to read about and I can safely say he is on my list of my favourite fictional characters. Richard was also well done, although I hated him with a passion - so much I had hoped the character would be hit by a bus and end it, I still enjoyed reading about him. For the most part there is a great cast of characters. Some are a bit stereotypical like the gossiping women of a small town, but overall all the characters are well down.
The only real problem I had with the book was that I did find it to drag at some points. It wasn’t a lot, but I did notice it. The story slowed down, or the plot didn’t move forward as quickly as I had hoped. Other than that a fantastic read.
Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I would, it has already received so much hype out there, but it is well deserved. The writing and storytelling by the author alone make it a worthy read.
What to read next: The Housekeeper and the Professor - by Ogawa Yoko. LibraryThing recommends The Help, The Forgotten Garden and Cutting for Stone. But I’m not sure on this one.