Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, 15 of 52

What a very real delight this book was. I say delight as a particular way to describe this book, it wasn’t brilliant, a must read or life changing. It was a delightful episode of comfortable english village life; well, certainly as I may imagine it.

Major Pettigrew is a man living on his own, with a very proud military history and in possession of some rare guns. His main dilemma presents itself at the beginning of the book, when his brother passes away. The guns were a pair and one was held by his brother and one by himself, he dreams of reuniting the guns again. Not to sell, but to keep them in perpetuity for his family. His family consisted of his only son, who was living the corporate executive lifestyle in London and largely un-concerned with anyone’s feelings apart from his own.

The plot thickens when the family all appear to be angling for the Major to sell the guns, so they could all benefit financially in some way. He is very distressed by this and finds comfort in a blossoming friendship with local shop owner  Mrs Ali.

Mrs Ali was an enigma for me, I had trouble trying to imagine her as I was reading and I’m sure I was mixing up many cultural metaphors unknowingly. Mrs Ali’s husband had passed away and their shop was being run by her sullen and unpleasant nephew. As the Major and Mrs Ali’s friendship grows it becomes clear that there exists very specific race and class systems in the village, particularly around the hallowed golf club. The Major himself does seem to only tolerate most people and really like a very few, but it was never race or class based. He certainly reminded me of my husband at times, with his no-nonsense manner of summing people up. What I did like about him is that he didn’t dismiss people, he gave them a chance to show their true character. Much of the book is about people’s true characters and how much they are apparent or hidden. Some people can not disguise their inherent nastiness, whilst others cover up how they really feel about things.

The story does have a climax, two relationships blossoming and floundering. The characters are well-rounded, but a few are blatant charactertures. It is gave me a very pleasant few nights of reading and I would recommend it, but don’t expect too much.


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