Thursday, December 01, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I am slowly but surely working my way through my TBR stack. I picked up Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson, at one of those depressing Borders closing sales earlier this year, and finally got around to reading it during Thankgiving week. That is, when I wasn't walking in the rain in Tacoma/Seattle or napping or eating.

It was as wonderful as I had hoped and expected. Set in a small English town, it was one those timeless heart-warming stories in which good, decent people overcome everyday obstacles, ennui, and prejudice and find happiness and a renewed joie de vivre. Definitely a feel good book about real people in believeable situations.

Major Pettigrew is a 68-year old widower who lost his beloved wife a few years earlier and finds himself falling in love with a Pakistani woman, herself a widow. I simply adored the Major and Mrs. Ali--lovely people whose priorities, loyalities, and sympathies made them perfect for each other despite the misgivings of their families, friends, and neighbors.

I loved the quirky cast of characters--from the Major's overly ambitious son and his overly American girlfriend to Mrs. Ali's overly intense nephew to the cast of village matrons and their discontented husbands. They were quirky enough to be funny but not so bizarre as to be irritating. I especially liked the little boy, George--sort of like Bertie from the 44 Scotland Street series but without horrible Irene as a mother.

This novel has a lot of the same feel as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--bookish, small community oriented, overcoming prejudices, finding happiness in unlikely places. It also sort of reminded me of watching As Time Goes By--funny at times, poignant at times, interesting in a comfortable sort of way. Really, a perfect book for reading during the holidays.


  1. Great review - I loved this one too.

  2. I really need to try this one. So many bloggers have seemed to love it.

    Hope you have an enjoyable month. So hectic sometimes.

  3. I read this earlier in the year and really enjoyed it -- it's thoroughly charming. I almost got it as a present for my mom, and I might still do so in the future. I think she would love it.