Goodreads Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

If you want to get in better mood for Valentine’s Day this coming month, read this book, then bring February to bigger life for you! Others have called Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand “delightful” and “thoroughly charming” and I agree.

I don’t feel I’ve spread my genre wings enough in recent years’ reading choices, purposely choosing to study business non-fiction instead, but 2011 is a year I wish to change my habits. Fiction is very pleasantly surprising me again: I have underestimated its inspiration power.

Like love, culture and civility are ageless ~ and funny

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book: I congratulate Helen Simonson for a wonderfully rich debut novel. It was a terrific January choice for me, as I’ve challenged myself to read more books this year, and it very effectively shifted my reading habit into higher gear, leaving me eager for more.

An easy and pleasant read set in an English village, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is at the surface, a ‘second time around’ love story between elders we admire and respect, but then other themes emerge by way of Simonson’s skillful storytelling and character portrayals: The book is a natural for book clubs, or for friends to share. As I began to read, it was a game for me to highlight the words I don’t see too often in text — or hear at all in our stripped-down, technology-tweaked language of today” senescence, scullery, dyspepsia, antimacassars, churlish, lugubrious” the list became longer, a subtle teaching of how words are so integral to our cultures, and a joy to the reader, feeding our belief that we must be better cultured for our own good. Another game could be to count how many times she could mention having tea; that number could be higher, for I did wonder if the British are able to function, and have the most basic of conversations without it! But soon I abandoned the highlighter because the story was building, and I wanted to ‘read deeper.’

The book will cause you to long for more face to face civility in our world, and yet it is humorous, not stiff (Jasmina delivers a gem of a line on page 324: so great when a book gets you to laugh out loud.) Nearly every character reveals a hidden layer of emotional complexity, yet they are instantly, humanly like us if we admit to it, and not too strangely fictional. One of the most delightful surprises in the story for me was Grace, and how her character grows into her name.

The book has a light touch all in all, and you can romp through it quickly, simply enjoying the story, yet it can be so much more if you let it in, completely open to how it might speak to you.

View all my reviews

Why Goodreads?

In short, I’m loving the tribal vibe. Readers are great people to be in-the-know with!

In my quest to read more books in 2011 (36 is my target number, just 3 a month.) I have returned to use my Goodreads.com account more, as a kind of a webby encourager. For me it’s a cool toy to graph my updates into a visual reading habit, and I get a gentle push to finish a book well (always a goal for me) by writing a short review, like this one.

I’m finding the community has grown and flourished there since I first signed up back in 2007, with Goodreads evolving to respond. Here’s some interesting trivia though: Out of 12,506 people responding to a poll there, the majority (49.8%) say they do not participate in book clubs at all… 29.2% responded with “No, I only participate in online book clubs (On Goodreads or otherwise).”

It seems to be a digital distinction, with Goodreads more in the camp of killer apps (love the new barcode scanner).

All to say, I am always pushing Alaka‘i managers to start some kind of book club in the workplace, because reading rocks as the killer app of ‘Ike loa, the value of learning. So if you’ve got digital devotees in your workplace, people who would say, “I’m not in a book club and don’t intend to join one” perhaps Goodreads will work for you too — and them.

Challenge yourself with reading too

Julien Smith reads 40 pages a day to reach 50 books read per year. 2010 was the first time he achieved this, and he is continuing his habit, so let’s give him the last word:

Why in God’s Name You Would Want To Do This?

It feels awesome. It gives you an amazing amount of ideas. It helps you think more thoroughly. It’s better than TV and even the internet. It makes you understand the world more. It is a building block towards a habit of completion. Did I mention it feels awesome?

” whatever, just do it already.