Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 2011 Book Club Meeting

Summary: In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition? -- Random House

This month, we read MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson. I have had this book sitting on my shelves forever and I was extremely excited to finally read it. This novel was a special treat especially after last month's THE HUMAN STAIN! I enjoyed the book and thought it was sweet, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to say I loved it. (I'll expand more on that in my review in a few days.)

Having said that, I thought MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND was a terrific pick for our book club. Most of the women loved it and I was pleasantly surprised by how much we were able to discuss about the book. I think one of the reasons that this book was such a good pick was because it touched upon so many universal themes including loss/grief, love, beliefs, prejudices, and family dynamics.

Next month, we will be reading THE TRUE STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETEL by Louise Murphy. I have a few friends who have read this one and really liked it. I think it's going to be very interesting, although I do think it might be a difficult read because of the subject matter.

Summary: In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.

Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story. - -Penguin

Have you read THE TRUE STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETEL? What did you think about it?


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I thought it was very sweet too, and I also like that more and more books are featuring "older" protagonists, and those protagonists still have love and sex and all that, instead of just Alzheimer's or something!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I thought the book was sweet too, but I found myself wishing for the end to come. The narrator was excellent so I can't blame the audio. I feel like I am in the serious minority though. As far as Hansel and Gretel, I really enjoyed it, because I love everything WWII.

Athira said...

I really want to read the Hansel and Gretel book. I've heard it's really good. My library doesn't have it though.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Love this book and glad your book club enjoyed it! XO

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read either book, but Hansel and Gretel sure does sound interesting!

Marg said...

I suggested this one for my book club because I think it is a fun read, but with plenty to talk about!