They say all writers should vary the type of book they read. So I have done just that. While I’m busy pulling together my next book I don’t have the luxury of additional time for much physical book reading, but I do enjoy a good audiobook to listen to when I’m walking the dog or doing the unexciting chores about the house and garden. Most recently I’ve managed to catch up with a few wonderful best sellers such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowiz, as well as delving into a couple of duff choices that I couldn’t get into.
Here is one of my latest discoveries. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. What a lovely title. It immediately gives you the flavour of the book. I would have missed this when it was first published in 2010 because I was still working full time in the NHS and any nurse out there will tell you that lunch is a bonus and enough energy at the end of the day to do anything other than slump in a heap is the norm. I barely had time to read any books at all. Now I’m on catch up!
The book: What’s it about?
Here’s the blurb:
Major Ernest Pettigrew (Ret’d) is not interested in the frivolity of the modern world. Since his wife Nancy’s death, he has tried to avoid the constant bother of nosy village women; his grasping, ambitious son; and the ever-spreading suburbanisation of the English countryside, preferring to lead a quiet life upholding the values that people have lived by for generations – respectability, duty, and a properly brewed cup of tea.
But when his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs Ali, the widowed village shopkeeper of Pakistani descent, the Major is drawn out of his regimented world and forced to confront the realities of life in the 21st century.
The quintessential English village is depicted so well in this delightful tale of loss, friendship, discrimination, snobbery and cups of tea. The story rolls along at a gentle pace, as life in the country for retired folk often does, and yet I became so fully absorbed in the story that I didn’t want it to finish. I became very attached to Major Pettigrew and was willing him to be brave, to throw off the expectation of others and to do what would make him happy. The character of his son was a study in ‘spoilt child becomes spoilt adult’, genius and there were a number of characters throughout the story I came to dislike in a similar way which made the story so much more interesting than a book full of quaint old dears being over-helpful.
The most excellent narration of Bill Wallis made Major Ernest Pettigrew come to life. I could see him in my head because of the great writing, but the intonation, the voice and the emotions attached all made for a superb piece of entertainment. I ended the book with a feeling of immense satisfaction. Delightful and endearing. I miss Major Pettigrew. Highly recommended gentle escapism.
Happy listening: Alison