Bookbrowse asked to interview me about Major Pettigrew. Check out the interview and their wonderfully rich book-centered website.
Waterstones, the UK’s leading bookstore chain has selected Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand as one of its twelve New Voices for 2010. I am so happy to be included in a list that, for the first time, features all debut authors.
Janet Maslin, of the NY Times said of Major Pettigrew, “It’s about intelligence, heart, dignity and backbone. ‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand’ has them all.” The Times of London said, “words can’t convey the slow-burning pleasure of this novel.” It has been a very exciting few days at the Simonson household as we approach tomorrow’s launch date with these wonderful reviews to bolster spirits. Launch jitters were calmed by a little champagne and a lot of teasing from the teenage members of the household; who are determined to remain unimpressed until they see the movie version! Thank you to everyone who has supported the Major. Fingers crossed and here we go…
It will be such a pleasure to ‘come home’ to the beautiful village of Westhampton Beach and read at my local bookstore, the Open Book, run by the wonderful Terry Lucas. I’ve been visiting Westhampton Beach (the quieter, family-friendly Hampton) for many years and I have seen Terry work magic to keep an independant bookstore open all year round in a village that is busy in the summer but sleepy all winter. I will be reading at 6pm on Saturday May 29th, and I hope my friends and neighbors will turn out, not just to say hello to me, but to show their support for Terry and her staff. Flip-flops ok!
The Corner Bookstore (Madison and 93rd) has invited me to read and sign books at 6pm on Tuesday, March 16. I hope you can join us.
The IndieBound NEXT List has selected Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand as its #1 Pick for March. This is especially gratifying news as this list is compiled through nominations by independent booksellers nationwide. I am so thrilled to have this support for my debut and I would like to thank all who toil to keep bookstores open in their communities. Support your local bookstore!
Barnes and Noble has selected Major Pettigrew for their Discover New Writers series, summer 2010. This is such an honor and I am looking forward to casually hanging around those nice ‘Discover’ displays in my local B&N!
Please join me and many friends, old and new, as I launch my book in my longtime home city of Brooklyn. Thanks to the owners and staff at Bookcourt on Court Street for inviting me to read in their amazing store. Bookcourt has stood at the heart of the Broooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill communities for many years (I remember wrangling my way through the door with babies) and helps make the big city feel more like a warm and friendly village. See you there.
Please join me as I launch Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand in Washington, D.C. with a reading at Politics and Prose at 6pm on Saturday March 13. I am delighted that Washington’s most renowned independent bookstore has made room on their busy calendar to invite me and I hope you’ll come by if you’re in the area. Bring lots of questions – it’s awfully lonely up on a podium when no one has questions.
On Bookstore Shelves March 2, 2010, Random House announces Helen Simonson’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
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.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand will be available in the UK in July 2010 from Bloomsbury Press.
It took me about five years. I was a busy mother and very much a part-time writer. It felt like a long struggle, but there are so many writers who have taken ten or fifteen years to craft a single novel. I am astonished, when I go into a bookstore, by the amount of time and craft represented in the books on a single table.
One day, I sat down to write a short story just for me, and found myself returning to the English countryside. I pictured a mellow brick house behind an ancient hedge – and when the front door opened, the Major just appeared, fully fledged, in his wife’s housecoat! To my surprise, this story seemed to inspire, in early readers, some very strong opinions about what the Major would do next and what his character would and would not allow. It seemed that I might have a novel.
It feels good to know that I skipped the whole coming-of-age story debut and that I didn’t peak too early! I think there are many ways to have a writing career and maybe I’m not sorry to have missed out on being young and hungry in a garret. I hope my novel suggests that you can have many chapters to your life and that it is never too late to begin a new passion. You don’t have to make a career out of it – my foray into modern dance, for example, was never going to prosper – but it may enrich your life.