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review 2018-07-03 03:14
THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson
Good story of how life was simple before WWI in a small English village of Rye then the war came and secrets came out and life became messy and complicated as the villagers try to maintain a semblance of life before the war.
 
I enjoyed this book.  I loved Beatrice and Hugh and was so glad that Hugh made the decision he did.  I'm also glad that Beatrice did not scare easily.  Some of the characters were the stereotypes we expect in a small village.  Others were not, I was glad to see.  I am glad that Celeste's story finally came out in the end.  Agatha was an interesting character and I'm glad that Beatrice questioned her actions at times.  Agatha needed to look at herself and finally let go of the expectations of her position as did the Wheatons, which, again, does happen at the end with Harry.
 
A good read that I got into.
 
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review 2018-06-19 07:58
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

A pleasant, well-written, if sometimes heavy-handed, story of love and romance after 60.  That sounds a bit milquetoast, but that's not what the book is; it may not have stirred my soul, but it was easy to pick up and hard to put down.  

 

Small village, small minds, race relations and a dying class system set the scene for a plot that is not unpredictable. But Simonson excels at writing rich characters that come alive on the page; the only time she failed for me was Roger.  Roger had no redeeming qualities and should have been disinherited posthaste.  Otherwise, the characters are what make the story.

 

A very solid 4 stars.

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text 2018-03-14 21:35
(US) Sale Alert: Miscellaneous
Tourist Season - Carl Hiaasen
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

Both on Amazon, for Kindle:

 

$1.99: Tourist Season, by Carl Hiaasen.  Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson.

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review 2018-03-03 20:52
MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Helen Simonson

Paperback, Large Print, 585 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Large Print Press (first published 2010)
ISBN: 1594134448 (ISBN13: 9781594134449) 

 

 

 

  I was not sure I would like this one; but once I started following Major Pettigrew's character in the book and seeing the changes in him, I fell in love with the book. Did he actually change, or did he finally stand up for the lifestyle he believed in? There were several characters I liked, then others who I just wanted to punch...I liked how Simsonson wrote her characters so that there was a distinct emotion I felt as I read about them. Definitely a must read...
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text 2018-01-08 18:58
2017 in Review
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson
Racing the Devil - Charles Todd
Calamity in Kent - John Rowland
Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

2017 was an excellent reading year around here.  I had four five-star reads, not counting re-reads, which is a very high total for me, out of some 90+ books read.  One was a novel - 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and three non-fiction: The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, and two by Ruth Goodman, How to be a Tudor, and How to be a Victorian.  Wonderful re-reads included Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, several Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (which I think I read in about 1978, but remembered nothing).

 

The best historical novel I read in 2017 was The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson, and the best new mystery Racing the Devil, by Charles Todd.  I read a decent amount of non-fiction, all of it good, from The Glass Universe (about the ladies of the Harvard Observatory) to Michelangelo's Ceiling (Damn it, your holiness, I'm a sculptor, not a painter), The Sun and the Moon (the Man-bats, or America's first great "fake news" story), and A is for Arsenic (Agatha Christie knew her poisons).

 

I had some reads that were just pure fun, like Jennifer Crusie's Agnes and the Hitman, Deborah Harkness' trilogy on witches, or Anne Bishop's novels about The Others.

 

It did have down moments.  Calamity in Kent's plot boiled down to "Scotland Yard inspector decides his tabloid journalist friend, Jimmy, is the best choice to solve a locked room mystery, and tells Jimmy to go for it."  Um.  OK?

 

The one which angered me, however, was my sole 1-star read of the year, The Ashes of London, which was billed as a thriller set during the Great Fire of London.  It is set *after* the fire, did not have very good historical detailing (it could have been pretty much anywhere and anywhen in the past that had suffered a large fire), and had two narrators, neither interesting.  And then it offended me with a touch of "let's start the characterization of the woman by having her evil cousin rape her" and I was out.

 

But most of my reading year was wonderful.  I hope yours was, too.

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