Saturday, August 20, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Written with a delightfully dry sense of humour and the wisdom of a born storyteller, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand explores the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of family obligation and tradition. When retired Major Pettigrew strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani village shopkeeper, he is drawn out of his regimented world and forced to confront the realities of life in the twenty-first century. Brought together by a shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship on the cusp of blossoming into something more. But although the Major was actually born in Lahore, and Mrs. Ali was born in Cambridge, village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as a permanent foreigner. The Major has always taken special pride in the village, but will he be forced to choose between the place he calls home and a future with Mrs. Ali?

My take: 4 stars
Very nice! The story of a stalwart Brit and a proud Indian falling in love later in life. What a wonderful story! Nice character development, pulling me into loving or despising them. However, the joy for me in this book was the writing. Wonderful descriptions without being verbose. Nice use of metaphors without being cliche. A pleasure to read, with a heartwarming story only adding to the experience. I will definitely read more by this author.

I found this pic depicting one reader's vision of the Major and Mrs. Ali. I can see it so
clearly in my mind in much the same way that I wanted to post the picture.

While the book started a little slowly for me, the more I read, the more I wanted to read. I was so drawn into the story that I cheered when the Major wanted to slap his son, but refrained from doing so. I laughed when Mrs. Ali was so bold with the Major in the end (you'll seen what I mean when you read it). I was so glad of what finally became of the Churchills.

This story speaks of materialism, love, greed, career-building, bigotry, family, tradition, grief, religion ... you can see that there is something for everyone here. And, by the way, a movie is also in the works for this book.

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