Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

This book was a joy to read! I predict it will be a sleeper hit, just like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel  (published by Doubleday) is Helen Simonson’s first book and I sure hope she intends to write more. I was full of empathy for Major Pettigrew from page 1 when Mrs. Jasmina Ali from one of the local shops in Edgecombe St. Mary lands on his doorstep looking for payment for his newspaper. The Major is embarrassed, he’s wearing his dressing gown, and he fumbles to try and find the money to pay her, only to go deeper into despair when it becomes obvious he’s taking a weak turn and Mrs. Ali offers to help him inside and fetch a glass of water. He tells her he’s just had word that his brother has died, hence the obvious distress he’s under. Mrs. Ali offers to make tea and from then on a friendship develops right under the noses of the nosey neighbours and townfolk . The townfolk consider Mrs. Ali an “outsider” (they think she was born in Pakistan) even though she was born in Britain. The Major (ret’d) they consider “one of them” even though he was born in India while his father was fighting for King & country. A lovely story enfolds, complete with dry British humour that will give you “Major” fits of giggles. Trying to understand the young people and the modern world is something the Major has difficulty with, even when dealing with his own son. The second part of the book is a bit more serious than the first, but just as endearing. It’s a wonderful story full of humour and rich in character. I can’t recommend it enough.

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