Ed's Reviews > Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
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Dec 23, 10

bookshelves: 2010, 3-stars, read-on-kindle, new-author-to-me, debut-novel
Recommended for: Fans of Alexander McCall Smith, Guernsey Literary/Potato Peel Society, Tea Biscuit Lit
Read from December 09 to 22, 2010

I have kind of a soft spot for this genre that NPR Books dubbed "tea biscuit lit." Having devoured volumes by Alexander McCall Smith, it's not a far stretch to think the characters in Helen Simonson's debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, revolving in the very same universe. Perfectly pleasant people, running up against some people and things in the not always always pleasant real world, but with things typically turning out quite pleasantly.

Most of the times I welcome this literary escape from reality, and while I found it to be initially quite charming, ultimately it wasn't enough to counteract a bad case of mid-December, pre-holiday crankiness and stress. While I remained smitten with the book's two leads, Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, I found myself losing patience and interest with the many, many peripheral characters and sub-plots. Likewise, the pacing could be compared to the car driving style of the Major and the Mrs., at times a bit too slow and meandering (the hunt) or too heavy on the pedal (the action towards the end was a bit of jolt).

As with other books in this "tea biscuit lit" genre, there is all this sly humor (particularly love the sarcasm) and delightful philosophical waxing, words of wisdom/life advice. Despite these flaws, it is really hard not to like this book and I feel like a bit of Scrooge giving it only 3 stars, but 3 stars is "liked it," right?!
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