“I think everyone has the right to be shown respect,” she said. “Ah well, there you go.” He shook his head. “Young people are always demanding respect instead of trying to earn it. In my day, respect was something to strive for. Something to be given, not taken.”
Helen Simonson has been compared to Jane Austen in this, her debut novel of tradition, manners and the consequences of change. Set in a small village in southern England, Major Ernest Pettigrew is the consummate gentleman, steeped in the etiquette and formality of his background and his time. He is appalled at the behavior of those around him, particularly the younger generation, who seem to demand more than they are willing to give. A widower, Major Pettigrew finds himself falling in love with a woman of Pakistani heritage, much to the chagrin of family and neighbors. And as they are all faced with inevitable change, Helen Simonson presents a cast of characters who must either accept that change or take a stand against it.
Simonson deftly presents a stunning novel of social satire that is as enjoyable to read as it is to ponder and discuss. A great pick for a book club!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2010