Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand | By Helen Simonson

I didn’t realize until after I’d read this I have so much in common with the author. I knew she either had to have lived in the UK or at least had a very reliable source. Her knowledge of village life in England as well as the attitude toward immigrants is spot on.
The first sentence enthralls and draws you in to the retired Major’s grief. He has lived his life in the same house in a small village, Edgecombe St. Mary and he knows all the other villagers. Major Pettigrew receives a phone call telling him of his brother’s death. It takes the wind out of his sails completely. What follows is kindness shown by an acquaintance, greed from his brother’s family and his own offspring for that matter and bigotry by his so called friends at the golf club.
The major’s orderly life is turned topsy turvy. It is only then that he realized sometimes you have to shake things up for those you really care about. When he starts meeting regularly with the Pakistani shop owner for tea and talk about Kipling he is slowly ostracized. One thinks of the movie Crash where we all think we are accepting of others until some event happens and our bigotry comes out loud and clear to others. It is never pretty and the same goes for this story. Intertwined are the cultural differences between the villagers and the Pakistanis who have moved there from elsewhere – although often they are also English just with browner skin.
A sweet tale of love but also family drama, honour and lots of tea!

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