Thursday, April 22, 2010
The most romantic hero of 2010 is a stuffy sexagenarian who first appears wearing a bright-pink floral robe. (It belonged to his late wife.)
That may not sound promising, but I assure you Helen Simonson's dryly delightful debut novel, 'Major Pettigrew's Last Stand', is one of the most endearing love stories I've read in a long time.
After the death of his brother, Bertie, the major finds himself unexpectedly unmoored. He strikes up a friendship with Mrs. Ali - a local widow whose tweedy neighbors don't even see her because she is Pakistani and runs a shop. But as the major and Mrs. Ali bond over Kipling and the loss of their spouses, he finds himself forced to consider that his village - Edgecombe St. Mary - may not be the staunch remnant of right thinking that he's loved all this years.
With her dry wit and incisive detailing, Simonson skewers village life as surely as Jane Austen satirized the 19th century. Fans of Austen and Alenxander McCall Smith should adore 'Major Pettigrew's last Stand'. My only real concern now is: How long will it take Simonson to write her next novel?
(Yvonne Zipp regularly reviews fiction for the Christian Science Monitor.)
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Small Island premieres Sunday, April 18, 2010 on MASTERPIECE CLASSIC.
When Hortense (Naomie Harris) and her husband Gilbert (David Oyelowo)
leave Jamaica for the promised land of post war Britain, their dreams
are tested by hard realities. In the small-minded country, their saving
grace is Queenie (Ruth Wilson), married to the kind but dull
Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch). Bonded by high hopes and
broken dreams, these four lives fuse together in a hopeful story based
on Andrea Levy's award-winning novel. (Two episodes; 90 minutes each)