January 30, 2012

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Review

Pin It

Stodgy, old school, snooty, stick in the mud, set in his ways. All ways to describe Major Pettigrew. Where have manners and propriety gone? He doesn't like what the world has become, with its fixation on acquiring material things, his son Roger included. Roger's is too busy getting ahead. He barely has time to attend his uncle's funeral, and now that he has a glamorous American girlfriend, Major Pettigrew expects to see him even less.

The shock of his younger brother's death leaves the Major shaken. So much so, that the lovely Mrs Ali, the local grocer, offers her help when she comes for the newspaper money. Having broken the ice, the Major and Mrs Ali strike up a friendship which grows into something neither of them expected. But what seems perfectly natural to the both of them is looked upon with suspicion and ridicule by family and friends. 

For some reason I had to talk myself into reading, or listening actually, to Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I'm not sure why. I'm not even sure I knew what it was about before I downloaded it. I had a few issues with it but it's a pleasant enough story.

The Major is a man with high expectations. He knows what people should or shouldn't do and mostly they disappoint him. The exception to this rule appears to be with the women he's attracted to, in fact they seem to be the opposite of himself. There's not much they can do that he doesn't approve of. His wife, who died some years ago, was a bit of a firecracker. Mrs Ali is a widow herself, that bonds them, but she's also warm and well read. She's a refined lady, in his eyes, despite being a grocer's widow. The problem is not just of class but one of race because she is of Pakistani heritage. She has a nephew (and family elsewhere) who doesn't approve of her new friend. The Major has his country club laughing behind his back. Their romance has to navigate faux pas and downright racism from all corners.

I loved that this is a romance where the couple involved aren't young, this is a golden years romance. Both of them had previous marriages. At first, the Major rubbed me the wrong way. He doesn't make allowances for anyone. Soon I warmed up to him, mostly because of how sweet on Mrs Ali he is. They are adorable. There is a scene at a cabin that had me grinning. Mrs Ali too made the story delightful. However, I had an issue with some of the secondary characters. They don't have much depth and are nearly stock characters. It's as if the stepped out of a Monty Python skit, "Hello, we're the racists. We'll be over here doing racist things. Carry on." Then there is Roger. While I know Roger is supposed to be shallow, I found him beyond belief. Could anyone be that clueless? Get an emotion, pal.

In addition to romantic entanglements, there are plots involving a pair of guns, land development, and an unwed mother. It gets complicated. There are some silly antics from the locals and the end is a little contrived but it's still one to read.

Recommended for romantics.

About the Audio: The narrator is Peter Altschuler who did an excellent job. I usually have a problem with male narrators trying to do female voices but I enjoyed how his voice went a little softer for the women. Nicely done.

Ratings:

Photobucket

Photobucket


13 comments :

  1. I thought I'd love this book, but ended up giving up before I was halfway through. The dialogue and characters just weren't done well enough to be entertaining - I'll stick with older books for my nostalgia reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did have that old feeling even though it's a modern story.

      Delete
  2. I want to read this for something laid back and cozy soon. Library has it. Hurrah!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I heard lots of good things about this book and attempted to read it myself... I didn't get it. I don't think I enjoy 'quiet' books which was essentially what this was. I am glad I tried, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did get very quiet in the middle, and I like quiet, but maybe it was too quiet.

      Delete
  4. For the most part, I enjoyed it but I didn't care for the silly antics (as you put it) and that party scene was so ridiculous and seemed so out of place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The party and the hunting scene were out of place though it did liven things up.

      Delete
  5. "a pleasant enough story"

    Yep, that's about how I felt. I didn't think it deserved all the hype it got, but it wasn't a bad read, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I didn't read it when it was being hyped. I don't think I would have liked it.

      Delete
  6. I liked this one. I often wonder if we have more resonance with Britishness because of the close ties that we still have. Another example is my preference for British chick lit!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I read this and enjoyed in my summer month of not writing on my blog due to mornings sickness. I loved the British-ness of it and I really enjoyed it, maybe because I was not able to concentrate on my complicated older works. I agree on the stock characters, etc., but in general, I really enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting! Please leave a comment. I've disabled Anonymous comments since I've had a barrage of Anon spam lately. Sorry about that.