Oh, Major Pettigrew! What a fine literary character you are. You are charming, refined, witty, urbane, intelligent and kind. You speak your peace, but always within the guidelines of proper etiquette. I wish there were more people like you in the books that are published these days, but you have arrived on the literary scene just in time. We’ve been waiting for someone to come along and entertain us with a bit of humor and instruct us on the proper way for an English gentleman to act and prepare tea. Let’s hope that Helen Simonson, the talented author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, has the good sense to bring you back to continue your story.
To be thoroughly entertained and find yourself transported to the most idyllic (seemingly) English village, this is a must for your reading list. Then, you, too, can have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Major Pettigrew. You will be saddened to learn of his brother’s death in the early pages but thankful that Mrs. Ali comes along at just the appropriate time, right when Major Pettigrew most needs a friend. The delight they find in each others’ company and their shared love for great literature puts their friendship on a firm footing. Then, as you sit back, you will watch their friendship flourish into something more and smile to yourself as they continue to address each other formally by their surnames throughout the entire book.
But this story is more than just the developing relationship between Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali. Simonson has written a gentle book that touches on some serious issues such as the clash of cultures, racism, the challenges of urban development encroaching on a historic area and how an elderly man can remain relevant in these changing and uncertain times.
Do yourself a favor and get this book. You won’t regret it and Major Pettigrew will be most happy to entertain you for at least a few hours. There’s something for everyone in this selection — a little heartbreak, a little love and large doses of grace and humor. The only way for Simonson to improve on this story is to continue to write about Major Pettigrew’s adventures!