You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart. The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
©2010 Helen Simonson (P)2010 Random House
Major Ernest Pettigrew (Retd) is not interested in the frivolity of the modern world. Since his wife Nancys death, he has tried to avoid the constant bother of nosy village women; his grasping, ambitious son; and the ever-spreading suburbanisation of the English countryside, preferring to lead a quiet life upholding the values that people have lived by for generations - respectability, duty, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But when his brothers death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs Ali, the widowed village shopkeeper of Pakistani descent, the Major is drawn out of his regimented world and forced to confront the realities of life in the 21st century.
©2010 Helen Simonson (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England's brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha's husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master. When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking and attractive than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colourful characters that populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha's reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress and the old ways will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.
©2016 Helen Simonson (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
Exclusive to Audible. Helen Simonson visits the Audible studios to talk about her latest release, The Summer Before the War.
©2016 Audible Ltd (P)2016 Audible Ltd