Monday, June 21, 2010

Major Pettigrew the Merchant Ivory Motion Picture

Greetings to you all, friends,

So who are we casting for the (inevitable, unquestionable) film? Emma Thompson for Grace the gracious neighbour - but who for Major Pettigrew and the obnoxious Roger? Jim Broadbent is too fat, and Colin Firth isn't quite old or young enough.

Did anyone else find the peripheral relationships - father/son, major/neighbour, son/girlfriend, major/abdul wahid MUCH more interesting and better drawn than the central love interest?

Would any else have liked a little more of Jasmina's internal monologue? I also wished that the Major's character hadn't existed quite so much in tart reaction. Though - I guess that's the implication of "reactionary".

Anyway, thanks for that. I enjoyed it, and I read it ON TIME.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Major Pettigrew makes his rounds

Betty Duffy bought a book and passed it to her sister.

Her sister read the book and passed it to her mother.

Their mother read the book and passed it to the grandmother.

The grandmother will read the book and will pass it to an aunt who will pass it to another aunt, and then it will go through the cousins.

Then they'll all go see the movie.  Or they'll dream about pooling their resources to go stay in a little cottage in a town in England like Edgecombe St. Mary's.

Actually I'm sorry I finished the book so soon, because I'd like to spend a few more hours in that world.

So although it is a rare event in our family to pay full price for a book, the $25 for Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, divided at least five ways turns out to be a very good deal for several hours of absorbing entertainment.

I wish I were as talented as Major Pettigrew at coming up with polite slights.  He says the things you only imagine you should have said hours after the conversation is over. And the objects of his pointed remarks rarely seem offended, or if they are slightly offended, as in the interesting conversation with Abdul Wahid when he is staying at the Major's, they end up having a meaningful discussion. I found it hard to believe, however, that Roger never felt more injured by the criticisms of his avarice.  But I did find it believable and likable that the Major recognized in himself the flaws of his son in his desire to possess the Churchill guns.  Since BD and I recently spent several hours with my aunt looking at our deceased grandmother's photographs, letters, and jewelry, this topic was fresh.  Our family hasn't suffered from disagreements over the division of our grandparents' household, but it's easy to see how a thing can become a totem almost of the original possessor and imbued with more value than the relationship with the siblings who actually are a living part of the original.

I also found myself wondering about Nancy, the first Mrs. Pettigrew.  She seemed so different from Mrs. Ali.  I suppose it is too much to ask that more be told about the relationship between Nancy and the Major in a novel like this.  My husband has always claimed that he wouldn't remarry if I died before him, but I wonder if I died relatively young, if he would marry someone completely different from me and how the kids would feel about it.  Sure to be complicated.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summertime, and the readin' is easy

Got my copy of Major Pettigrew and finally started in on it today while the kids were in piano lessons. It's a fast read -- I'm humming along. I haven't found a huge amount in there yet that demands pausing and chewing over, but it's a charming book. I have my quibbles with the fact that most of the secondary characters have come across so far as complete stereotypes, but I wonder if the author is going to pull out some surprises later.

For any members who've been on hiatus because they've been too busy with real life to want to deal with Faulkner or McCullers: this is just the book to jump back in with. Undemanding, fashionably new, and pleasantly readable.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June Selection

Betty reminded me that I was next up to pick a book, and I'd been kind of dithering about what to read. We've done lots of American South, so I think we ought to leave that alone for a bit. How about something brand-new? Julie D. recommends Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Anyone up for reading a new book? This sounds like just the sort of thing I'd like right now -- I'm kind of supposed to be on a quasi-bed rest until next week (it don't mean anything, I think, but the midwife wants me to put up my feet until next Friday, which will be 36 weeks) so something charming would be ideal.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Once is not enough

My copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is due back at the library today, which I'm not exactly crying about. I enjoyed it well enough, but I don't find that it's sticking in my head in the same way as some of our other selections. However, I had been chewing over one point, and it just crystallized for me.

SPOILER ALERT for them as haven't gotten this far/picked it up: Young Mick and the boy next store go out for a pretty innocent picnic by the creek. They're in a kind of puppy love at this point, and dare each other to go skinny dipping. After this activity, they're laying on the bank in a pleasant state of tension, when they roll toward each other and Mick finds herself no longer a virgin.

This is neither exciting nor earth-shaking -- it just is. And then it's over and done. Mick knows something has changed, but she's not sure what. She doesn't like or dislike what she's experienced, but she doesn't really have any desire to repeat the experience.

I don't really want to make this a big sex post, but it strikes me that Mick's distancing first (and only) encounter proves the wisdom of waiting until you're married and then taking a honeymoon. Sex isn't something meant to be experienced in isolation -- one time, then you're through, and well, that was pretty damn uncomfortable. Part of acclimating to being married is the chance to go at it several times a day to get used to the weird physicality of the act. And to relax and unwind enough to get some desire back just in time for your body to be healed up enough for there to start being some degree of pleasure in the act. Sex is a learned activity.

But I think that girl like Mick, with her one strained encounter, is in serious danger of developing a warped view of sex as something unpleasant or disgusting. Although she and Harry seemed to be just doing what came naturally, it was actually a pretty unnatural way to develop a wholesome view of sex.