Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Book Nook is a new column on NantucketChronicle.com where book-lovers can find suggestions and make comments on what we're reading. Written by staff members at Mitchell's Book Corner and at Bookworks, Book Nook hopes to hear from you with your recommendations as well.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson (Random House, 2010)
A lively story of a former retired Army officer and a widower, Ernest Pettigrew, and an equally active and vivacious Pakistani widow, Jasmina Ali, who runs her own shop, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand takes place in present-day England. They realize after meeting one another that they have a lot in common including books and the experience of finding themselves alone in middle age.
The two begin a friendship that revolves around literature. It soon grows into something more. This drives their respective families and friends into a collective tizzy because he is the stand-up long time citizen of the village and she is a "foreigner". Their different cultures and traditions are a joy to Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali but a nuisance to their families who try incessantly to break up the relationship on the grounds of their age and backgrounds.
This is a funny story, watching Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali growing close amid the bewilderment of their families and friends. The town of Edgecombe St. Mary comes alive with colorful quirky townspeople, land issues, ethnic restaurants, delicious meals and many other funny scenes as Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali quietly ignore any impediments to their relationship.
This book is a charming example of love coming to an older couple in spite of the disapproval of their families and friends. There is a lot of comedy in the book with the families trying to "talk sense" to Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali. Alas, it does no good in the end and the journey to love is heartwarming and endearing without being contrived.