Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is the story of widowed, retired army Major Ernest Pettigrew and his growing attachment to the widowed shop owner, Mrs. Jasmina Ali. Their paths collide the morning the Major hears the news that his younger brother has passed away of a heart attack. Shortly after taking the call, Mrs. Ali knocks on the Major's door to collect the paper money on behalf of the sick paperboy. Seeing his distress, Mrs. Ali sits him down in his living room and makes him a cup of tea.
After Mrs. Ali leaves that morning, their paths continue to cross and the more times the Major sees her and the more he gets to know her, the more he begins to have feelings for her. He knows that this is impractical. He is well up there in years and Mrs. Ali is Pakistani. She would never fit or be accepted in his prestigious country club. Soon, however, this doesn't seem to matter because he enjoys Mrs. Ali's company and their lively book discussions more than he cares for what the town thinks. By the end of the book, the Major will have to make his last stand to stand up for honor and love or to honor the code of his affluent lifestyle.
There is a great deal more going on in this book than the relationship between the two widowers of different backgrounds. There is the Major's relationship with his adult son, Roger. They struggle to understand each other or to know how to be what the other needs. Roger is a self indulgent and self absorbed young man and this makes the Major question his parenting skills. Mrs. Ali is a thorn in her in-laws' sides because she refused to give up the family business after her husband died. She is now training her insolent nephew to take over the shop and struggles to live her life under his glare. There is the rich versus poor dynamic in the small town, along with an us versus them mentality, which is my polite way of saying most of the people in the town of Edgecomb St. Mary were bigots.
The narrative moved slowly; I think the author intended this book to flow like life flows, with ebbs and meandering flows with a few rapids thrown in from time to time. But, the slow moving narrative and characters I just couldn't muster enough empathy to care for made this a tedious read for me. This novel wasn't earth shattering or live changing for me as a reader, nor did I consider it a complete waste of time. It really was just a 'so-so' read.
It's hard for me to say much about this book because none of it really stood out for me. But, I'm just one opinion. Have you read this book? Do you agree with my review or do you think I'm crazy for missing out on how amazing it is? Let me know!