Library style forecast
Selecting fiction for the library reminds me of The Devil Wears Prada. True, there's no dragon-lady boss mistaking my desk for the coat closet (though I wouldn't mind being first in line for Meryl Streep's character's rejected designer bribes and handbag samples). My office space isn't awash in Gucci belts and Manolo Blahnik footwear, but the pile of current publishing journals offers scores of next-season book reviews. The common factor is this: proximity to an endless supply of tempting goods.
Usually our best hope for pleasing all our readers is to opt for titles from many different genres: romance, western, fantasy, mystery, etc. When something new comes along with the promise of gratifying more than one audience--even better. Helen Simonson's new Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a case in point.
Reviewers have been chatting up this book for months. They predict it'll be a hot property for book clubs, noting the story's witty balance of village charm and contemporary issues. From all reports, readers like me who demand exceptionally well-drawn characters will judge the Major to be a worthy protagonist. Tempting, indeed.
So, I checked out the library's copy as soon as it was cataloged. There was no waiting list then, but that's changing. I thought Major Pettigrew's Last Stand lived up to the early buzz: inventive plot, authentic characterization, tone that is consistently warm-hearted without devolving into cutesiness. Simonson exhibits a deft hand with prose, particularly dialogue. After a couple of "let me just read you this paragraph" episodes, my husband declared himself sold on Simonson's style and on the story's interracial romance premise. This novel's social relevance is practically guaranteed to prevent the dreaded silence after your book club's initial round of "I enjoyed it, too" votes.
An additional design feature you couldn't expect from Gucci, Prada, or Michael Kors: As demonstrated this past weekend, Major Pettigrew accessorizes just fine with either a Marshall's clearance rack ensemble or the classic pajamas and fuzzy slippers.