Acquired via BookCrossing 19 May 2011 – BookRing

Major Pettigrew gains the rather cloying sympathy of his village when his brother dies suddenly, but finds that he draws most comfort from the friendship of the lady from the village shop. As he’s drawn into her life, the relationships in his own family are thrown into stark relief, and by the end we’ve learnt a lot about the choice between family and duty, which pull people in all sorts of directions.

This is a quietly charming book that creeps up on you and ambushes your heart, so that by the exciting events near the end you’re really rooting for, well, almost all of the characters. Village life and family relationships are beautifully and subtly drawn, and all of the characters are three-dimensional; you cheer inwardly when they achieve their fates. Simonson refuses to tie everything up neatly at the end, which makes for a more satisfying and realistic read. My favourite quotation: “Passion is all very well, but it wouldn’t do to spill the tea.”