Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson--3.89 stars: This book was adorable. Major Pettigrew is curmudgeonly old man who gets the hots for Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani widow working at the village market. His son is a brat, and his friends are gossipy and horrified by everything. The Major and Mrs. Ali become dear friends, and he desperately tries to figure out how to turn it into more. It's a bit Jane Austeny: dry, witty, and VERY British. There were a few scenarios in the book I didn't care for and it moves slowly, but it was funny, cute, and completely sweet.
For fans of: I Capture the Castle, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Jane Austen, books on diversity, falling in love with the English countryside
The Princess by Lori Wick--2 stars: I read some Lori Wick books in high school and LOVED them. Either this was just a terrible book, or my tastes have drastically changed (they have). Keep in mind this is Christian fiction, so, yeah. It's hard to make that good sometimes. This book takes place in a country that doesn't exist. Prince Nikolai was widowed, but is required to get remarried. He asks his parents, the King and Queen, to arrange a marriage, and they pick a girl with no ties to the royal family. They get married and have nothing to do with each other, as he can't get over his dead wife and she's too shy to talk to him. WILL THEY GET OVER THEIR ISSUES AND FALL IN LOVE????? *dun dun dun* I mean, if you want something wholesome and heartwarming and cute, then sure. This will work. But the writing was SO cheesy and just not realistic whatsoever. Could be worse, but could be much better.
For fans of: gagging, eye rolling, Christian romance
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis--5 stars: I first tried to read this book in college. I was writing several essays a day, some in French, some in English, and I just didn't have the brain space to make it past the first chapter. Lewis is DENSE. You have to have some serious brain juice available to absorb everything he says, but it is so worth it. This book just blew me away. I didn't know this before, but Mere Christianity is actually a series of radio talks Lewis gave during WWII. The government knew the British people needed something uplifting, something to give them hope during the war, so they had Lewis explain Christianity over the radio. Can you imagine that happening today?? No. He has the most brilliant mind. The analogies he came up with to explain aspects of Christianity that people struggle with were just incredible. Lewis was a staunch atheist who became a Christian when he realized he could no longer ignore the truth, and I think that point of view gives him such an edge. Even if Christianity is not your thing, but you want to understand it better, this will do it.
For fans of: religion, philosophy, having your mind blown wide open
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp--5 GIANT STARS: You've seen The Sound of Music, right? And you love it, don't you? THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN BY THE REAL MARIA VON TRAPP. You know she was real, right? Some people are like "duh" and others (my husband) fall over from shock when I tell them. I knew they were real, I knew they had a place in Vermont, but that was the extent of my knowledge. There is SO MUCH the movie didn't tell, like how they became famous singers and toured the world. Also, she was so much funnier than I expected her to be. Julie Andrews truly captured her mischievous personality. My favorite parts were the chapter on learning English and misusing American slang (literally cried from laughter) and her observations of Hitler when she found herself sitting next to him in a restaurant. Her faith in God is so evident, and she had some powerful stories proving God's provision. I can't recommend it enough.
For fans of: The Sound of Music, WWII, immigrant stories, music
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber--5 stars: Carolyn "Caro" is an agnostic feminist creeped out by Christians. She gets accepted into Oxford to get her Masters in poetry (or literature? something wordy). She happens to meet a Christian and picks his brain about Christianity throughout her first year of school. She starts slowly exploring Christianity to the chagrin of her family and most of her friends. Following in C.S. Lewis' footsteps, she grapples with religion and faith and eventually comes to believe. Her love of literature is woven through the entire memoir, and it will make you want to book a flight to England immediately. I loved and adored this book. It was powerful, intelligent, charming, and it felt like a privilege to read.
For fans of: C.S. Lewis, faith, literature, Britishness
Still Life by Louise Penny--2.5 stars: It's fall in Quebec. There's a tiny little town full of eccentric artists, a Bed and Breakfast/antique store, and foolish teenagers. It's basically a Canadian Gilmore Girls. Until! One of artists is found dead in the woods. Is it a hunting accident? COULD IT BE MURDER? Chief Inspector Gamache is on the case! This book sounds adorable and cozy, and it IS. The writing style is cute and funny, but it's not consistent. Some chapters were great, and some were boring. The majority of the characters were a little too eccentric and hysterical and annoyed me. The ending seemed a little strange and unrealistic. I finished the book completely unimpressed, yet I've been finding myself thinking about how much I loved the setting and wanting to read the next book in the series to see if it changes my opinion, because I seem to be in the vast minority by not loving it. Maybe it just needed the touch of Amy Sherman-Palladino. I'll report back.
For fans of: art drama, murder mysteries, fall leaves and cozy fires and tea
What are you reading? I have some C.S. Lewis, Simply Tuesday, and Missional Motherhood on my table to read.