Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (by Helen Simonson: Fiction) c. 2010

Summary: Major Ernest Pettigrew, retired and widowed, leads a quiet life in a small town in the Southeast English village of St. Mary. Until, unexpectedly, the death of the Major’s brother ignites a friendship with local Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali. Finding that they have more in common than they could ever have imagined, friendship begins to blossom into something more. Can their rural English society, still holding onto the lingering traditions and prejudices of the past, accept this turn of events? And more importantly, can the Major himself?

Review: This is an excellent, and funny book. The characters are unique and well written, the English humor accessible to an American audience, and the issues (both personal and societal) are timely. While this will be most approachable to Anglophiles and fans of gentler reads, this is the rare title that I would recommend to almost any reader.

Read-a-likes: Other similar English titles, such as Old Filth by Jane Gardam or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, should be of interest to fans of Simonson’s work. But other titles dealing with older individuals adapting themselves to a new life and world, such as Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan are worth a look as well.

Availability: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book and an audiobook on CD.

Review by Eric.

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