Monday, January 30, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 5


Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand may very well be the most romantic, in the best and purest sense of the word, book that you’ve read in years. This novel will take you by surprise; it will steal your heart. Unless of course you have a heart of stone like a woman I know, I won’t say her name but it rhymes with Liz Sullivan.

Brace yourself because you are going to fall a little bit in love with retired Major Ernest Pettigrew. [Says you.] I know, you never thought you could feel this way about an older man, especially one named Ernest. Call him Ernie if it helps because honey I am telling you it's done, you’re going to love him. [Nope.  Not capable.] He is completely old school, he is very opinionated, and he is beyond modest in his lifestyle. He is the quintessential proper Englishman. [Like Christian Bale?  Hmmm....] Pettigrew lives a quiet life in a picturesque village located in the English countryside, recently widowed and with a son who seems to have little time for his aging father. Pettigrew spends most of his time alone until the day when he meets a beautiful Pakistani shopkeeper from their village named Jasmina (also a widow). Both, still nursing the loss of a spouse, find that their love of literature and all things proper gives them comfort and unexpectedly puts them on a course of friendship and love.

Helen Simonson’s writing is flawless, and, while not stealing from classics, it certainly has the feel of being written long ago. I highly recommend Pettigrew for your book group or a romantic getaway…just you, a young masseuse, a barrel of wine, and Major Pettigrew.  [Like Liz and Clive Owen.  Mmmm....Clivey Poo....]


Let's talk about loving oneself.  Gianna can tell you all about self love.  It's important for a modern woman.  Sadly, the book of female empowerment about which I write is currently out of print, but I encourage everyone to find a used copy.  The book?  Dirty Weekend by Helen Zahavi.

Our protagonist, Bella, is a woman beaten down by society.  She is a victim living in constant terror.  A man starts threatening her basically because he can, and then finally one day Bella wakes up and decides that she's had enough.  She rides her wave of newly discovered self-love to a quite impressive killing spree.  Mess with Bella?  Bella's going to mess with you.  Victimize women?  Get ready to die.  Act like a jerk?  You better make amends with your god.  Fail to satisfy your mate in the boudoir?  That Viagra isn't going to resuscitate you.  Sorry.  

Helen Zahavi wrote the delightfully rage-driven Dirty Weekend as a response to the misogyny of American Psycho.  It's a hoot, and it provides context for what could drive a woman over the edge.  This is my kind of serial killer.  (In related news, yes, I am still single.)

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