Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Helen Simonson, Author . Random $25 (358p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6893-7

In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/04/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Genre: Pick of the Week
Hardcover - 358 pages - 978-0-385-66864-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-71287-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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