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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. 

Mary Saffell

Comments

Thank you for this coulumn! And  the recommendation for Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which was nicely explained.

Currently, from my bedside pile are The End Of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This is a memoir of an adult son taking care of and learning from his mother while she dyes of terminal cancer (she puts up the good fight all the way), through the books they choose and discussipns they have about the material while she is undergoing treatment. Schwalbe's voice is what I am drawn to--very clear, looks for no sympathy and the book is extremely well organized. A real story, with a wonderful book list to boot.

I also have two short story books going--William Trevor's After Rain, and Alice Munro's The Love of as Good Woman. Both these authors are master's of this genre--doesn't get much better. Lastly, I am very slowly reading Lower River by Paul Theroux--a detailed storyteller of distant climes--this time from a tiny village in Africa. Theroux is one of my favorite travel writers who writes both fiction and nonfiction.

BUT_ for pure nonfiction that you can't put down--read Behiind The Beautiful Forevers by katherine Boo--which just won the National book award for Non-fiction. A crystal clear view of life in thje Mumbai slums. Riviting! Also Round House won the Fiction category for the National book award--have not read it yet, can anyone review it in this column for me?

 

Thank you for this coulumn! And  the recommendation for Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which was nicely explained.

Currently, from my bedside pile are The End Of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This is a memoir of an adult son taking care of and learning from his mother while she dyes of terminal cancer (she puts up the good fight all the way), through the books they choose and discussipns they have about the material while she is undergoing treatment. Schwalbe's voice is what I am drawn to--very clear, looks for no sympathy and the book is extremely well organized. A real story, with a wonderful book list to boot.

I also have two short story books going--William Trevor's After Rain, and Alice Munro's The Love of as Good Woman. Both these authors are master's of this genre--doesn't get much better. Lastly, I am very slowly reading Lower River by Paul Theroux--a detailed storyteller of distant climes--this time from a tiny village in Africa. Theroux is one of my favorite travel writers who writes both fiction and nonfiction.

BUT_ for pure nonfiction that you can't put down--read Behiind The Beautiful Forevers by katherine Boo--which just won the National book award for Non-fiction. A crystal clear view of life in thje Mumbai slums. Riviting! Also Round House won the Fiction category for the National book award--have not read it yet, can anyone review it in this column for me?

 

Alyssa K. Corry's picture

I agree with this review by Anonymous!  I loved this book. There is nothing I love more than a transformation novel i.e. character is extremely set in their ways, gets their mind blown, and fixes/changes everything about their lives and outlook. Not to mention I love anything about those stiff upper lip Brits. Add in shooting parties in the British countryside, and dry witticisms from Major Pettigrew (à la Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino only a Brit), and we have a winner! Definitely would recommend this to everyone.