Good Reading : May 2010
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Helen Simpson Major Er nest Pettigrew is the quintessential English gentleman and he is living out his retirement in a manner befitting him. That is until his precise routines and expectations of life are shattered by the death of his younger brother. This reminder of his mortality calls into question all the things that he thought were important to him and, surprisingly, leads to a relationship with Mrs Ali, who runs the corner shop. A mutual love of books brings Mrs Ali and Major Pettigrew together, along with the fact that they are both dealing with the recent loss of loved ones. There are many larger-than-life characters in Edgecombe St Mary and these make the story very enjoyable: Lord Dagenham the local aristocrat without a penny and Daisy the shameless social climber, to name a couple.The only drawback is Major Pettigrew's son Roger, who is an unbearable snob, but even he softens towards the end. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a fantastic read that not only restores your faith in romance but also paints a vibrant life for the older characters. This book is about living in a conservative country village, finding love and becoming embroiled in all manner of small-town controversy. It is a reminder that we need to make the most of the time we have, even if we live small lives and the steps we take seem insignificant. ★★★★ Allen & Unwin $32.99 Reviewed by Melissa Wilson The Wives of Henry Oades Johanna Moran What a story! And it's based on real events. How did three innocent adults and heir five children become embroiled in such bizar re train of events? What would we have one in their shoes, or even as bystanders, 120 ears ago? Indeed, would we have survived? There's no shortage of debate for bookclubbers n The Wives of Henry Oades. Henry, Margaret and family sailed from London in 1890 for New Zealand. While Henry was absent, his family became victims of Maori war riors seeking revenge against white men. Believing his family dead, almost insane with grief, Henry made a new life as a dairy far mer in Berkeley, California. He fell in love with and wed Nancy, a young pregnant widow. What to do then when his first family ar rived on his doorstep five years later? The puritanical community claimed to know, accusing the trio of bigamy, treating them like pariahs and seeing Henry in court three times to defend his innocence. But at Oades's house, complex moral issues were worked out. Were the Oades ahead of their times? The readers' guide included asks us to identify themes: love, resilience, morality, women's friendships, for starters. If you live events vicariously you'll enjoy this historical fiction, but it is obviously a first novel -- look for depth and development of characters and you'll be dissatisfied. ★★★ RG HarperCollins $27.99 Reviewed by Barbara Baker general fiction word of mouth THE COMPELLING NEW NOVEL FROM JOANNE HARRIS bestselling author of Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes.