BookPage editors—and readers—loved Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. In our March 2010 issue, Linda White wrote: "In her first novel, Helen Simonson has created a charming and engaging story of the hazards of English country life."

Our editor Lynn Green recently read the novel with her book club. The novel turned out to be an exceptional pick for her group, and here's why:

My book club reads many heavy-duty works of literary fiction, which often feature dysfunctional families, tortured characters and excruciating personal dilemmas. Reading Helen Simonson's debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, was a change of pace—and a breath of fresh air—for our group. We were reminded that "normal" and immensely likable characters can be just as interesting, and as perceptively portrayed, as the tortured types.

When I hear the word "heartwarming" applied to a novel, my first concern is that the writing will be lackluster or sickly sweet. Neither is true of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which is both insightful and well-crafted. If you're looking for a lovely story that manages to entertain and enlighten without explicit sex, violence or language, this is your book. —Lynn

If you've already read Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you will be thrilled to learn that author Helen Simonson has signed a deal to write a second novel. According to a posting on Publishers Marketplace, it will be set in a "small town in Sussex, where the idyllic beauty of a late Edwardian summer in the country, complete with the passionate pursuit of love and the usual social squabbles, may be swept away by the onset of a war no one could imagine."

Did you read Major Pettigrew? Will you look for this second novel?

What have you read lately that was "a breath of fresh air"?

Psst: For more books on the lighter side, see a list of our Top Ten Heartwarming Reads (lackluster writing not included).


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