Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson
Format: audio book 13 hours, 368 page equivalent
Characters: Major Ernest Pettigrew, Mrs. Jasmina Ali
Subject: Love, loneliness, cultural and class differences
Setting: a small village in coastal southern England
Genre: Fiction
Source: public library audio download
Challenge: Brit Lit

Here's one that could have been trite, chick-brit-lit, but instead is an endearing story of two people and their families. Two people, from two different cultures, who manage to overcome their differences and find understanding, love and a future together. When we meet Major Ernest Pettigrew, British Army retired, he is stiff, rule abiding, and lonely. Widowed for several years, he has just lost his only brother, his son (a total jerk) is 'sort of engaged' to an AMERICAN (Horrors!), and his brother's widow is refusing to give him the gun his father said was to be his when his brother died. This was a set given his father by the Maharajah in India, and father wanted the guns to remain in the family and kept as a set.  Brother seems to have forgotten to mention the gun in his will.

At the same time we meet Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the storekeeper  in the small town (horrors again - the woman is in trade!) Mrs. Ali happens to be a widow of Pakistani ethnicity, although she was born in England and has never been out of the country. Her nephew, a strict Muslim, has recently arrived to help his auntie, and to guide her back to true religion.  The Major and Mrs. Ali strike up an unlikely friendship, meeting to discuss books, and drink tea together.

The other characters and ancillary goings on in the town contribute to a host of situations in which the Major and Mrs. Ali find themselves working together, and then being torn  apart. There are many obstacles (mostly other people's problems) that make their life difficult, and the book an interesting and compelling read,  but this is primarily a story with a happy ending that is not syrupy but rather adult, human, and inspiring. A definite sleeper. It would make a great movie.


  1. I have seen this one around but didn't really read anything about it. Gosh, it actually sounds pretty interesting! Good review...thanks.

  2. I have been eyeing this one for awhile-I love the cover.


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