Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#21: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (Helen Simonson)

on November 15, 2016

It took me far longer than I had planned, but I finally finished my latest novel. I was fascinated by the story of Major Pettigrew, an English widower, and his growing relationship with the exotic Mrs. Ali, the Indian widow who operated the village market. Simonson’s novel examined the nature of growing love between mature adults while facing bigotry from an uninformed section of society. The plot further intensified as the impact the extended families — both English and Indian — upon the non-traditional union was considered.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is filled with humor as well as touching scenes. Simonson’s writing is actually quite beautiful. I especially enjoyed her statements about the importance of reading. Here are three passages that spoke to me so deeply that I had to stop my reading in order to write them down.

“There’s nothing useless about reading the classics,” said the Major, weighing the books in his hand. “I salute your continued efforts. Too few people today appreciate and pursue the delights of civilized culture for their own sake.” (Simonson, 46)

“. . .I tell myself that it does not matter what one reads — favorite authors, particular themes — as long as we read something.” (Simonson, 63)

“I think that even if you dislike them, knowing one’s parents helps a child understand where he or she came from,” said the Major.  “We measure ourselves against our parents, and each generation we try to do a little better.” (Simonson, 352)

I doubt that I would have read Simonson’s work if I had not decided to re-ignite the “My Library Shelf” project, but I’m certainly glad that I did. Now that I’m living in Plainview, I decided it was time to make a fresh attempt at the project and select a shelf in the Unger Library. (If you’d like to read more about the Library Shelf project, check out the blog post here.)

For those who might be interested, here are the books that are included in My Library Shelf.

  1. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (Helen Simonson)
  2. The Summer Before the War (Helen Simonson)
  3. Reality Check! (Rikki Simons)
  4. Doomed to Die (Dorothy Simpson)
  5. Anywhere But Here (Mona Simpson)
  6. The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe (Mary Simses)
  7. The Rules of Love and Grammar (Mary Simses)
  8. The Rosie Effect (Graeme Simsion)
  9. The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
  10. Please Look After Mom (Kyung-Sook Shin)
  11. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair)
  12. World’s End (Upton Sinclair)
  13. The Collected Short Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer
  14. The Estate (Isaac Bashevis Singer)
  15. Kiss of Snow (Nalini Singh)
  16. Tangle of Need (Nalini Singh)
  17. Shards of Hope (Nalini Singh)
  18. Prep (Curtis Sittenfeld)
  19. Sisterland (Curtis Sittenfeld)
  20. Eligible (Curtis Sittenfeld)
  21. The Whispering Muse (Victoria Cribb Sjon)
  22. The Locked Room (Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo)
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