Monday, August 27, 2012

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Perhaps it is a sign of my age, but I can not think of a book that is more romantic than Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, which was published in 2010, which I have just read. It was on my possibilities list for some time, but its being the choice for an upcoming book discussion moved me to actually read it. It is jolly good to be in a book club, as I am now very glad to have read it.

Major Ernest Pettigrew is a retired British soldier of traditional values who lives in the quiet village of St. Mary, England. As the story begins, his brother has died, and he learns that reuniting the very valuable family hunting rifles (called "Churchills") was not specified in the brother's will as the major has been led to believe. Both his mercenary banker son and his ambitious niece want the guns sold so they can fund their projects, but the major just wants to have them to use at annual duck hunts. The major sense that neither of the young people nor his sister-in-law have any sense of tradition.

The major explains all of this to Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani widow who runs a little shop in the village. As they walk along the beachfront and drink tea, he discovers that the attractive widow shares his love of Kipling and a sense of what is proper behavior. He is enamored, but how does Mrs. Ali feel?

Being a fan of many British books and television, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was ready made for me, and I do not think I am alone. It is no longer on bestseller lists, but there are many copies in public libraries. If you are similarly inclined, put it on the top of your list.

Simonson, Helen. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Random House, 2010. 358p. ISBN 9781400068937.

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