I received this book as a gift and finished it in record time. A New York Times Bestseller, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a delightful story of love encountered in one's senior years. Each page is sweet, subtle and satisfying as we follow the characters through their growing friendship and final admission of deep ardor between dissimilar personalities with contrasting backgrounds.
Retired English Major Ernest Pettigrew has struggled with the death of his brother which followed closely on the heels of the death of his wife. A key concern arises when he recalls that his father had gifted the brothers with twin hunting guns which he refers to as the Churchills. Upon the death of one of the brothers, it was the understanding of the father that the surviving brother should be heir to the second Churchill. Of course, his sister-in-law Marjorie had other plans for her husband's Churchill which involved selling it for its high value.
In the throes of his misery, the Major formed a friendship with Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani widow who lives in England and runs the village shop with the help of her nephew Abdul. Very slowly, the two oldsters find common interests in poetry and novels, especially Rudyard Kipling.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Meanwhile, Pettigrew whiles away the hours at his golf club with his cronies whose wives have set standards for those who are invited to the club. His son Roger keeps him occupied with his burgeoning career and his latest romantic entanglement. Roger plans to purchase a cottage close to his father's estate which is really irrelevant to the Major's happiness.
His attraction to Mrs. Ali prompts him to visit the village shop on a regular basis and the two eventually steal time to be with each other to discuss their common interests. Elegant, refined, and graceful, Mrs. Ali is the perfect foil for the proper Englishman to whom she is also drawn. Of course, the locals have a lot to say to each other about this unusual pairing.
A great deal happens to bring them together rather than pull them apart. The Major invites Mrs. Ali to a club dance where the participants cannot help but admire Mrs. Ali while frowning on her foreign extraction. Mrs. Ali's nephew, Abdul, has a son George from his relationship with a local dancer and the two would like to marry despite the admonition of his parents back in Pakistan.
Woman of Pakistan
The pages are peppered with the clever observations of the Major who has a skewed but intelligent outlook on the world and the characters who people it. My Book Club has the practice of pondering the question of who would play the part of the main characters if our book became a movie. I can see Hugh Laurie of the TV Series "House" fitting very comfortably in the part of Major Pettigrew. An unknown would have to play Mrs. Ali. She has no equal in Hollywood at this time.