Like the characters in Helen Simonsen's outstanding first novel, sometimes you have to leave your senses to come to them. I rashly abandoned the 14-day loan to linger over a copy of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand from the library, and am unrepentent. This, and Middlemarch, are the best books I have read all year. I lived in Middlemarch for summer vacation; Pettigrew was with me for the Christmas holidays. For everyone who loves England, a cure-all cup of tea, and believes simple happy endings are as possible as people are complicated.