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Helen Simonson Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Summer Before the War (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Helen Simonson is an international bestseller and a New York Times bestselling novelist from England, who lives in America. Her writing career is comprised of only two books, both of which are extremely successful. The novels are mainly set in Sussex, England, where used to reside when she was a teenager. Helen loved Sussex very much, but when she turned into a young lady, she decided to move out for pursuing her higher studies. And eventually, she first moved to London and then to The United States. Author Helen shifted her focus towards writing when she became a mother. At that time, writing was just a desperate attempt for her to go through an intellectual escape. And it was not before Helen turned 45 that she began taking novel writing seriously. She also published her debut book at around the same time. Helen uses her own successful writing career as a proof to tell people that it is never too late for pursuing your passion. Author Helen was born and brought up in England. Her family moved into a country house in East Sussex when Helen was in her teens, and thereby they were able to fulfill their English dream. Helen liked the medieval towns, sleepy villages, and the pebble bank shores of Sussex as it fulfilled her vision of a dream home. The place where Helen and her family lived was close to a 14th century port called Rye. The surrounding areas were filled with beautiful landscapes, hills, seas, and ports. After Helen turned young, she felt the urge to continue her further studies in London or in America. And she very well achieved the dream of living in both the nations. But, she says that she always carried the love for England in her heart and still carries it. It has not faded away after remaining away from her birth country for so many years.

Author Helen believes that the dichotomy of having the desire to stay at home and the urge to move to a different city proved to be of central interest for her writing and her life. For the past 3 decades, author Helen has been residing in America. She has become a long time resident of an ancient wooden house located in Brooklyn, New York. She has even lived for some time in Washington, D.C. Before trying her hand in the writing field, author Helen used to work in the advertising field. She started by working as an advertising agent. Helen did not take to write fiction until she became a mother. Being still young and the mother of 2 children, Helen found it very difficult to deal with the frequent changing of diapers and the classes of baby gym. Therefore, she wished to escape from all this through an intellectual sense. And with this, the idea of indulging herself into writing fictional stories struck her mind. At first, she began by taking writing classes during the night time. She considered it as a good way to get some time off for her daily chores. Author Helen always knew that the career of a writer takes a lot of time to develop and flourish, and so she always kept the patience that was required from her to remain in the long run of this career. As far as the academics of author Helen is concerned, she graduated from the Economics School in London and then earned an MFA from Southampton. After living for so many years in the USA, she has acquired its citizenship and now resides with her husband and a pet dog named Sir JJ. Author Helen is proud of both her sons.

The first book written by Helen Simonson is entitled ‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand’. This book was released by the Random House in 2010. The important characters of this novel include Major Ernest Pettigrew and Mrs. Jasmina Ali. At the start of the story, Major Pettigrew is introduced as a courtly, completely endearing, wry, opinionated, and living a retired life. He lives in Edgecombe St Mary, which is a tiny village located in the countryside of England and is full of hills, cottages, and hilarious characters. Major Pettigrew seems to be living a satisfied and quiet life. He values the proper things, which all the Englishmen have also been valuing for many generations, and they are duty, honor, decorum, and a brewed tea cup. However, after the death of his brother, Major Pettigrew indulges in an unexpected friendship with Jasmina Ali. Mrs. Ali is a shopkeeper hailing from Pakistan, who also lives in the same village as Mr. Pettigrew. As the two get drawn towards each other because of their love for literature and the absence of their spouses in their lives. After a while, their friendship blossoms into something more, which brings them even closer. However, the village community insists that Major Pettigrew must embrace himself as a quintessential local, while Mrs. Jasmina Ali is regarded as a permanent foreigner. Due to this, both of them wonder whether their relationship can survive the risks of pursuing happiness and at the same time deal with the limitations of tradition and culture.

The next novel that author Helen wrote in her career is called ‘The Summer Before the War’. It was published in 2016 by the Random House publication. Author Helen has mentioned the primary characters in this story as Hugh Grange, Aunt Agatha, and Beatrice Nash. At the beginning of the book, the time period of the year 1914 is depicted and the place shown in East Sussex. The Edwardian summer in England is about to come to an end. Suddenly, the weather becomes very beautiful and is appreciated by all the residents. Hugh Grange decides to meet his Aunt Agatha after taking a break from his medical studies. Agatha resides in the idyllic Rye town. The husband of Aunt Agatha works for the Foreign Office. Agatha seems to have risked her reputation that she had built very carefully over the years by deciding to appoint a woman who would replace the former Latin master. This thing concerns Aunt Agatha very much. Later, Beatrice Nash arrives in the beautiful town with her book crates. By looking at her, everyone agrees that she more attractive and free-thinking than a normal teacher of Latin should be. She suffers from a personal tragedy as her father has passed away and has not left behind even a penny for her. Seeing her financially miserable state, the only thing that Beatrice wishes for is to live alone and focus on her writing and teaching. And as soon as Beatrice Nash starts loving the beauty of the landscapes in Sussex and appreciate its colorful characters, the perfect summer ends. In spite of the numerous assurances of Aunt Agatha, the unimaginable is expected to happen. And the limits of the old ways and progress get tested as the small town prepares to participate in war.

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