Friday, May 13, 2022

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was a delightful, addictive story of second chance romance and a family dealing with changes in the makeup of the family order.

After the death of his wife of many years, Major Ernest Pettigrew soldiered on with his orderly life of retirement in the English countryside village of Edgecombe St. Mary. He found pleasure in gardening, maintaining the family home, playing golf with old friends at the local club, and looked forward to a bit of hunting during the season. When his younger brother passed away unexpectedly, he was shocked and grieved but anticipated finally receiving the completed legacy from their father’s estate – his brother’s half of a matched pair of Churchill rifles. Each had agreed to leave the other their rifle upon their death. Unfortunately, his sister-in-law had other plans. She and her daughter and even Ernest’s son wanted Ernest to immediately sell the Churchills as a pair to reap a higher profit.

Meanwhile, the major had struck up an acquaintance with the local village shop owner, Mrs. Jasmina Ali, and in time had discovered they shared many common interests, views, and opinions. But the villagers of Edgecombe St. Mary and the golf club members viewed Mrs. Ali as a foreigner and as a shopkeeper of a lower class than themselves, littering the path of their budding relationship with prejudice and many tiresome stumbling blocks. In addition, Mrs. Ali’s own extended family, especially her nephew, Abdul Wahid, who she wanted to take over the shop, expressed their disapproval of her relationship with the English major.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was a delightful, addictive story: one I didn’t want to put down until it was done. The major is such a good guy! Yes, he is a little strait-laced and uptight, but he means well and tries hard. Jasmina Ali is a lovely woman, someone I would love to know in real life. Their growing affection for each other was wonderful, and I rooted for them to work out from the start.

The author has excellent supporting characters, especially Grace, Abdul Wahid, Roger, and Sandy. However, I enjoyed the family of caterers with their older family members still working in the business they founded quite a lot.

I felt the whole Mughal-themed dinner dance was a recipe for disaster, and I was not disappointed with the results. Abdul Wahid was a source of surprises, though, throughout. One of my favorite exchanges occurred between him and the major.

“But I must ask you. Do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?”

 “My dear boy,” said the major. “Are there any other kind?”

I was on the edge of my seat during the major’s confrontation with Abdul Wahid at the cliffs in the park.

I recommend MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND to fiction readers who enjoy stories set in small English villages, tales of different cultures trying to find their comfort zone in established communities, second chances at romance, and family, both the kind you’re born into and those you find and form later in life.

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