|I did not dumpster dive for the food, by the way.|
Helen Simonson - Major Pettigrew´s Last Stand
This was the only new book I brought in my suitcase, just for the comfort of holding a physical novel. Retired, widowed Major Pettigrew is the quintessential English gentleman in the quintessential English village, but a sudden loss propels him into a relationship with Mrs Ali, also widowed, who runs the village shop. Their interracial relationship makes waves both in the village and in their families. Romantic and sharply witty, this was an enjoyable read about both love in later life and the ways in which different cultures marginalize the older generation. The one irritation was the overly-detailed accounts of British life, and several cliches, a hallmark of the nostalgic expat (it takes one to know one). Nonetheless, by the end of the book I was too engrossed in the story to be bothered by them any more. I would definitely look out for Simonson´s other book, The Summer Before the War.
Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor - Travels with Pomegranates: A Mother Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey and France
I bought this as a Kindle Daily Deal because I was intrigued on two levels: a journey set partly in the Mediterranean (I have moved to the edge of the Mediterranean), and the idea of facing new stages in one´s life as a woman. At the time of writing, Kidd is on the verge of fifty and at a loss how to cross the border into the latter half of her life in a way that welcomes new life and creativity. Her daughter, Taylor, has just graduated, and is entering womanhood, but an unexpected rejection from grad school and what she thought was her vocation has brought on a crisis whose roots are in her own sense of self-worth. Their travels take them to the sacred feminine places of Europe and within themselves. I am not very into feminist theology, and I nearly stopped reading after a few pages, but I am glad I persevered, because very soon I was drawn deeply into the more universal experiences expounded by Kidd especially (I am about the age she was then). I read this in about two days as I had a sick toddler who just wanted me to lie around with him - I think that must be an illustration of the phrase ˝guilty pleasures˝. As with Helen Simonson, more Sue Monk Kidd books are going to hover on my mental TBR list.
Margery Sharpe - Cluny Brown
Cluny Brown is a working class girl who refuses to know her place - daring to have tea at the Ritz and talking to everyone as equals. Her Uncle Arn, a respectable plumber, who definitely knows and is proud of his place, sends her into service at a country house in order to cure her, but where she, and a Polish guest, bring upheaval to the life of the house and village. A lighthearted, affectionate send up of the English class system in its last gasp before World War II. It reminded me of that old John Cleese skit on the classes:
Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy, and wishing a happy bookish summer to readers everywhere.