Sunday, June 12, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

I have fallen for Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) in a big way.  This man is a quiet hero and deserves to be my new literary boyfriend.  Major Pettigrew is a man of substance, widowed, a gardener, reader and a champion of living a life of integrity.  He is just about the sweetest male character out there. 

Meet Mrs. Ali, also widowed.  She is the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.  Mrs. Ali and Major Pettigrew have formed a wonderful friendship that blossoms quite slowly into love.  Their families and the village, however, are not supportive of their relationship and merely patronize them.  The family ideals of religion and race relations interfere causing catastrophe.  

This novel is very Austenesqe.  Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is Jane Austen meets the modern world.  This book takes place in a small English country village near the seashore.  It is very quaint with old houses containing old English families and new immigrants moving into the area.  Most people find manners and formalities very important as well as their daily tea.  So when scandal enters their small village to shake the tea pot, people are not sure if they should embrace what is new and modern or hold fast to traditional ways.

One part that I found most fascinating was the talk about Pakistan.  Pakistan was partitioned off of India in 1947.  Many Indian Muslim's were forced to migrate to Pakistan and some chose to migrate to England.  England colonized India in the late 1800's.  In England the Pakistan people are never really accepted as English and if they visit Pakistan, they are not known as Pakistani's but as Englishman.  It is like they straddle two countries and continents but are only a part of each culture, not a member of the whole culture. 

When Major Pettigrew makes his last stand, people in the neighborhood listen and think.  It makes me wonder, what do I stand for? 

If you had to make a Last Stand what would it be about?

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