Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand- Helen Simonson

I adored Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand via audible books. Major Pettigrew knows Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani village storekeeper, because he shops for a special tea at her store. Recently widowed herself, Mrs. Ali has one foot in a very traditional culture. She has no children. She is expected to transfer the store to her extremely grouchy and unlikeable nephew and to move in with her husband’s family where she will help care for her mother-in-law and the household. Mrs. Ali grew up in a house filled with books and she read extensively. The Major, also a bookish person, inadvertently finds this out when she stops by to drop something off for him and an unlikely friendship ensues. There are lots of subplots, as are common in English Village stories — the son who moved to London and became boorish and money-grubbing; a little boy born out of wedlock to a Pakistani mother who is a knowledgeable and avid dancer but in trouble with the father’s family and her community; the story of a pair of guns, one left to the Major and one to his brother who recently died, worth a fortune together and desired by various characters for various reasons; a discriminatory golf club that is first class by village standards but rather ho hum to outsiders; the inpecunious Lord Dagenham and a conniving wealthy American with designs on his land; and more folks! Lots more. I love the interrelationships of class and race and status in Edgecombe St. Mary and surrounds. Even the minor characters are drawn well enough that we can recognize their “place” and also their humanity. I would say that you might not like this book if you are uninterested in introspective people or in the pebble in a pond way the story proceeds. It was definitely my cup of tea!

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