Archive | February, 2011

Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

26 Feb

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Book CoverRating:  3 out of 5 stars

About the Book (taken from

Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside, is filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and contains a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of readers’ own families. Their interactions are both hilarious and heartbreaking.In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, 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 tradition?

My Review

This book was another one of those I seemed to see everywhere.  My online book friends talk about it, it’s been on the Trade Paperback Bestseller list for what seems like forever, and it was this month’s selection for my in-person book club.  I was completely psyched to read it but much to my disappointment, once I got started, I found it to be a bit slow going.  I actually put it down for a week or so.   What I picked up instead was Anna Karenina which made me long for the ease of reading something written in this century so back I went to Major Pettigrew. 

Ultimately, I’m glad I finished the book.  It wasn’t something I tore through, but as I refine my literary tastes, I find that wanting to tear through a book isn’t always necessary for me to like it.  I’m becoming much more appreciative of a more slow-paced dramatic story, which is a pretty accurate description of this book. 

I loved, LOVED that this book was told from the perspective of someone in their twilight years.  The timing was perfect –  I’ve been facing the reality that I am starting to get ‘old’ (relatively) and this book was a source of comfort to me.  People might age on the outside, but they absolutely don’t age on the inside! 

I thought the character development was superb – the author really is very talented.  I wish I could have gotten into the heads of some of the other characters in his town.  I would have loved to hear their perspective of him.

Bottom Line:  This book is perfect if you are looking for something steady but enjoyable.  The plot unfolds slowly and at times you have to be a little patient , but you truly love Major Pettigrew and his life as a retired Englishman living in the countryside and falling in love.


The Help Needs Some Help!

26 Feb

That was the best title I could come up with, sorry – it’s sort of cheesy.  Anyways, I was led to the following article by one of my online reading buddies.

The Help by Kathyrn Stockett is an extremely popular book on the reading circuit. You can read my review of it here.  There is also a movie in the works that I believe is due to be out sometime later this year.  

The article explains that the author is being accused of stealing the premise of the book from someone – her brother’s nanny.  I have to say that it seems awfully suspicious.  If it does turn out to be true, I will be heart-sick that we’ve given an author accolades she didn’t deserve. 

Here is the entire article.

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

24 Feb

…for supporting books and reading! 

As you probably know, the 2011 Academy Awards take place this Sunday night. It’s worth mentioning that many of the movies nominated this year were adaptations from books.  I think these authors should be first on the list to get thanked, don’t you think?  Honestly, I’ve never paid much attention before, and I am definitely curious to see if they are!

Here’s a rundown –

 Winter’s Bone

Based on a novel with the same name by Daniel Woodrell

  • Best Picture nominee
  • John Hawkes – Best Supporting Actor nominee
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Best Leading Actress nominee


True Grit

Based on a novel with the same name by Charles Portis

  • Best Picture nominee
  • Jeff Bridges – Best Leading Actor nominee
  • Hailee Steinfeld – Best Supporting Actress nominee
  • Best Art Direction nominee
  • Best Cinematography nominee

The Social Network

Based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Bezrich

  •  Best Picture nominee
  • Jesse Eisenberg – Best Leading Actor nominee
  • Best Cinematography nominee

The Town

Based on Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

  • Jeremy Renner – Best Supporting Actor nominee

127 Hours

Based on Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

  • James Frano- Best Leading Actor nominee

How To Train Your Dragon

Based on a book with the same name by Cressida Cowell

  • Best Animated Feature film nominee

Alice In Wonderland

Based on Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

  • Best Art Direction nominee

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I

Based on the book with the same name by J.K. Rowlings

  • Best Art Direction nominee