There was a time when I stopped reading. I became so involved in blogging and being a mom that I didn’t have time to read a whole book to myself. Sure, I read books constantly to the girls, but I wasn’t reading books for me. When I picked up a book and started to read again, I realized how much I missed reading. So 2011 became the year of the book club! At the beginning of last year, I joined an online book club through the SITS Girls.
Through this online book club, I read some amazing books, including The Bird Sisters, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, and Secret Daughter. One of the big advantages of joining this book club was being able to participate in the Twitter parties. Several times the author joined in our discussion of the book we had read. It was so fun to ask questions and get an answer from the author herself! The disadvantage of this type of discussion was commenting on these wonderful books in 140 characters at a time. Challenging, to say the least.
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Then, my neighbor asked me to join her book club. A night out with other women, in real life, to discuss books with as many words as I wanted? Absolutely!
And so I read even more. Being in a book club encouraged me to read books I never would have picked up on my own. This is one book that I might not have read, and I’m so glad I did.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Sometimes you love a book because of the relevance to your life. While it doesn’t seem like I would have much in common with a retired Major living in a quaint English village, amazingly, I did.
Major Pettigrew is obsessed about the heirloom gun set in his family. As I read about his obsession, I remembered my grandma. When I would visit my ninety-year old grandma in her apartment, she would go around the room and point to each piece of furniture. She would tell me the history of the piece and remind me that it should stay in the family after she was gone. Just like Grandma, Major Pettigrew comes back to the subject of his family guns time and time again, and how this set of guns should be owned by him after his brother dies.
The death of the Major’s brother comes as a shock to him; just a few years earlier, he lost his wife. Surprisingly, it is a shopkeeper in town who becomes a comfort to Major Pettigrew. Mrs. Ali has also lost her spouse. Their unexpected relationship grows from a fondness for literature and their enjoyment in each other’s company.
Here enters more relevance to my life at the time that I read this book. This past summer, 18 months after my mother died, my father married again. Through the eyes of Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, I was able to accept the idea of love after loss. The Major and Mrs. Ali’s new relationship doesn’t diminish the love they felt for their respective spouses. Major Pettigrew at one point even tells Mrs. Ali that he wishes he had known her husband. With grace, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand explores the idea of a second love in life. Quite different than a first love, as my own father would say, but also worth pursuing.
While I think I would have liked this book no matter when I read it, 2011 was the ideal year for me to read this enjoyable book.