Novel on English village life amuses while spearing prejudice

Helen Simonson
Helen Simonson grew up in England but has lived in New York for the last 20 years. When she decided to write a novel it is set in a Surray village where people take a dim view of a retired major's love affair with a local Pakastani woman. Simonson says after living in New York, she knows there are such villages everywhere.
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

After struggling for a while to write a gritty up-to-the-moment novel, Helen Simonson decided to stop beating herself up and write something for herself.

The English native who's lived in New York since 1986 began the story of a retired military officer who scandalizes a small English village when he falls in love with the Pakistani woman who owns the village shop.

"Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" is now on the New York Times bestsellers list, and Simonson will read in the Twin Cities tonight.

She told Euan Kerr she aimed to train a caustically humorous eye on people's petty prejudices, but she had to make sure she did it right.

Before you keep reading ...

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