Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

How to describe this book? I loved it for it's fictional setting in the country village of Edgecombe St. Mary, on the southern end of England. I loved the main character, Major Pettigrew, for his quintessential British air of refinement and honor. I loved the story line about the growing romance between Major Pettigrew and a widowed Pakistani woman, Mrs. Ali, whom everyone else seems to see as an outsider. It was a delightful trip into a world of British culture and a universe of powerful pulls of love.

The story begins with Major Pettigrew reflecting on the recent death of his brother. While it is true that he is mourning the loss of his only brother, it is equally true that he anticipates the reunion of his treasured gun with its mate (bequeathed by his father to his brother with the spoken understanding that it should always remain in the family and revert to whichever surviving brother). However, the will fails to secure the second gun back into his rightful ownership.

Alongside this disappointment, Major Pettigrew must deal with his profit-seeking son. Jasmina Ali is dealing with her own stubborn and sullen nephew. Then there's the uproar in the village over the Major's budding interest in someone as lowly as a foreigner who is a shop-owner.

The characters are colorful and interesting. I could imagine the setting quite clearly, having been privileged to visit the southern tip of England in my travels (and even visited a similar site, to one mentioned in the book, where many have jumped to their death). It is definitely a book which focuses more on characters and setting than on plot or action, although the story does move along at an amiable pace. If you love all things British or love stories of relationships across nationalities, this will prove to be an enjoyable read.

As this video shows, it is often best when a writer decides to merely write something they themselves would love to read, rather than trying to fit into the mold of what might sell:


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