Lisa, from Grown and Flown, writes: December is book month whether buying gifts for others or just looking for something to curl up with over the holidays. So in the spirit of the season, here are a few titles that we want to share, ones we put in the category of “best books.” Some are new, some are not. There is fiction and fact and the only common ground is that we loved them all.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (2012)
I love small stories writ large, tiny worlds carefully constructed by truly gifted writers in which, as the reader, I can transplant myself. Helen Simonson’s first outing gives us such a world and that rarity of rarities, a true midlife love story. Major Pettigrew is stuffy old Britain, a man who finds it easier to show his love for his treasured Churchill rifles than his son. Mrs Ali is the new Britain, worldly, industrious and passionate in her love of family. These two characters, the embodiment of two eras, bring out the very best in each other. Simonson’s sense of humor emerges in a very funny undercurrent as we see her American characters through very British eyes. As an American who long lived in England, I did not know whether to blush or apologize. This is a book without artifice. If you are tired of reading books of contrived youthful passion and instead want a tale of real adult love, Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali will not let you down.
Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty-Nest (2012)
We featured Sally Koslow here because we love her and love her writing. Mary Dell had the privilege of taking some of Sally’s superb Sarah Lawrence College writing courses (she works one on one in person and remotely if anyone wants to walk in Mary Dell’s shoes) and then later acting as an author’s assistant on this wonderful volume. If you find that you have raised “adultescents,” young people seemingly caught in that limbo between adulthood and adolescence or fear that is who you are in the process of raising, Sally’s tale is for you. She brings the hard nosed research of a journalist and the warm heart of a mother to her analysis of why our kids can’t/won’t grow up and what we should do about it. Sally is not afraid to pull punches with a generation of parents who have overindulged their offspring leaving them unable to move forward. She gives us a verbal slap on the wrist with my favorite line directed at her fellow baby boomer parents, “Step away from the kid.”