15 JulMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson 19/52

Major Pettigrew is a 68 year old widower and ex-colonel from a little English village.  He befriends the local shop owner, a certain Mrs. Ali, who is also widowed.  They bond over a fondness of books and a strong value of being polite, which in the major’s opinion, is fast becoming a thing of the past.  The world is changing around him and it seems to him that people just don’t care about values and traditions anymore.  He notices this lack of respect in his son, a bit of a social climber, who is all too willing to do whatever it takes to move up in the world, including selling his family’s heirloom guns to a rich American.

The closer the Major and Mrs. Ali become, the more the townsfolk notice and disapprove.  Mrs. Ali’s Pakistani heritage seems to be a problem for the exclusive people of the village and they make it known.  All the while, she is being pressured by her deceased husband’s family to forsake her independence and give up her shop to her nephew to go live with them and fill her duties as is befitting for a widow of her culture.

I really enjoyed the Major’s dry sense of humour and sarcastic wit but one thing that irritated me about this book is the author’s double standard.  She writes about how awful it is that the English village-folk are prejudiced when it comes to the families from Pakistan however she has no problem stereotyping Americans and portraying them as loud and stupid.  It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this little love story.

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