Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

This book was my book group's selection for August. Major Pettigrew is an old-school English military man, of the type we wouldn't typically find in the United States. He insists on being called "major," even by civilians. As a widower and father of a shallow, materialistic son, he doesn't seem to have much purpose in his life until he finds late-blooming love.

The object of his affection is a Pakistani shop keeper in his small village, Mrs. Ali, also a widow. Of course, the narrow-minded villagers, along with Major Pettigrew's and Mrs. Ali's own family members, do not think very highly of their blossoming relationship.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand has been described as Austenesque, and I would agree with that. Two unlikely lovers, humorous (and horrifyingly obtuse) situations and people in the midst of serious issues, and exquisite storytelling. We had an interesting discussion at my book group meeting about how English this story was...the English woman in my book group didn't necessarily agree, but I think many things about the story are quintessentially English. Perhaps it's just a matter of a small English village--even our American small towns are not quite the same way--or the class structure so firmly entrenched in English culture and history.

Although Major Pettigrew starts out as an uptight English snob, he evolves during the novel.

The ending seemed a bit far-fetched, but I still enjoyed this book and would recommend it!

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