Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is a story of love at any age and that you can very well teach an old dog some new tricks.
Major Ernest Pettigrew, a retired Army officer, lives in the town of Edgecombe St. Mary, in the home that originally belonged to his parents. A classic Englishman of the “stiff upper lip” variety, he is caught in a vulnerable position when he hears some tragic news and answers the door to the town shopkeeper, Mrs. Jasmina Ali, who assists him in his time of need as any good neighbor would. Thus begins a relationship that surprises them both – as well as their families and the rest of the town – and lays open everyone’s prejudices and attitudes for introspection and shows that anyone can find it in their heart to change for the better.
There are many ups and downs in this novel — some terribly funny, some awfully sad — but the author put the story together so well that I found it very difficult to put the book down without reading one (or two) more chapters. The characters were absolutely delightful — even the not-so-nice ones — and I felt like I wanted to sit with Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali and discuss literature with them over a nice cup of tea.
I highly recommend this novel. It is one of my favorites of the year thus far.
This novel also fulfills the “Title in the Title” choice for the What’s in a Name Challenge.