Based on a quick glance at the description on the back cover, I’d been looking forward to reading this book for months!
In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
Since I like British fiction and I always enjoy a nice romance plot, this seemed like a perfect book for me.
That said, I spent much of the book very worried about my choice because the plot seemed to focus unnessarily on the fate of a “matched pair of churchills“, which I eventually figured out were some valuable and historically signifigant shotguns.
The title — Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand — also has a military ring to it, and some of the tension in the book is invoked by the reader waiting for the Major to make his last stand as he encounters several challenges within his family and his society.
I highly recommend this book for anyone might appreciate the comedy of manners of Jane Austen with a modern multicultural bent, all in a compelling character-based story.
Have you read the story of Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali? What other stories would you recommend like this one?