August 10, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

I guess I just don't have an appreciation for this book like most people do.  I wanted to like it; I actually did like some parts of it.  But I also found it a hard read, like slogging through quicksand.

Major Pettigrew is living a quiet life of a widower in town.  His son lives in a bigger city, making a name for himself as a banker.  And his brother, well he has just died and so the Major finds himself very distraught when the nice shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, a widow herself, comes to the door to collect the newspaper money.  Mrs. Ali sets to help him and this starts the beginning of a friendship that is only marred because Mrs. Ali is of Pakistani descent and therefore not an "approved" companion for the Major in the eyes of most of society.  Throughout this growing relationship, there is a dance to plan, guns to sell, and other rocky relationships that make things interesting.

The Major is an ok character.  But while I found him proper I also found him a little selfish.  Not intentionally of course, and not as bad as his son, but he still was very concerned with appearances rather than with other people's emotions.  He improves somewhat, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.  His son, like I said, is worse.  I couldn't stand Roger.  Wanted to give him a good kick in a sensitive place.  Actually, the only character I really did like was Mrs. Ali.  She was a sensitive person and put others first.  Just very nice and understanding when there was a lot of prejudice around her.

I liked the actual storyline of the book.  The mature relationships aren't something I read about very often and I thought it was very sweet.  The way Simonson brought the two together and developed their relationship was adroitly done.  I did not however like all the stereotypes in the book.  It would seem that Simonson hasn't had good experience with Americans and they were portrayed as very brash and self-centered.  The one gets a little better, but even so, it was kind of insulting since we're not all the same.  I also thought the other plots about the guns, etc. distracted from the love story.  I found myself wishing they'd be over as they kind of made the book a bit boring.  The romance part though was wonderful and really the best part of this book.

I think it's a nice book but not as outstanding as I was expecting it to be.  Fans of British literature and "drama" may enjoy it quite a bit better than I did.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Copyright 2010
355 pages

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