Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a novel about the trials along the path to true love - in this case between a retired army major of sixty-eight and the Pakistani widow who runs the local shop. It is set in the English village of Edgecombe St Mary, where everybody knows each other and social gatherings centre on the golf club and village church, making it a bit like a modern day version of a Jane Austen novel.
It all begins with the sudden death of the major’s brother, an event that throws Pettigrew into such disarray that he answers the door dressed for dusting in his late wife’s flowery overall. He finds Mrs Ali from the shop on his doorstep, come to collect his newspaper money, and all but collapses on her shoulder with grief. She makes him tea and so begins a wonderful friendship.
Their relationship comes under threat by a number of events, including a plan to build an elitist housing estate; the upcoming golf club ball with its British Raj theme; and Mrs Ali’s difficulties with her nephew, Abdul Wahid, who is helping her with the shop. The major also has problematic relationships with his son and sister-in-law who have high hopes from the sale of the major’s treasured hunting rifles.
The novel is told with delightfully dry humour from the point of view of Major Pettigrew, capturing his old-fashioned, stiff-upper-lip army character but leaving him vulnerable enough to engage the reader’s sympathy. This is a delightful novel, loaded with charm, with a story that twists and turns towards a wonderfully dramatic ending.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue Link: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand