Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

12 May

You know how after you read Pride and Prejudice you were like, “I am never going to find a book so well written with such a meaningful love story but I’m still gonna try”? Well, stop looking!

Before I go into reviewing the plot and characters and what have you, can we just talk about this cover. Ugh. So adorable!

Okay, focus. So Major Pettigrew has just found out through a phone call from his insufferable sister-in-law that his brother passed when he hears a knock at his front door. Mrs. Ali – a widow who owns a tea shop Major Pettigrew frequents – immediately recognizes his distress and takes measures to calm him down. And in Britain this means tea.

Thus begins a beautiful relationship. I am not going to go into the minor characters or the subplots except to say they only add to the complexity of the bond Mrs. Ali and Major Pettigrew share. There are so many forces pulling them apart – racism, age, colonialism, religion, family, class, etc. – but somehow their lives keep leading them to each other. And they see in each other what they need to get by in the world.

And the language in this! It’s so Jane Austen-esque. I mean it makes your heart ache. Por ejemplo:

“Unlike you, who must do a cost-benefit analysis of every human interaction,” he [Major Pettigrew] said, “I have no idea what I hope to accomplish. I only know that I must try to see her. That’s what love is about, Roger. It’s when a woman drives all lucid thought from your head; when you are unable to contrive romantic stratagems, and the usual manipulations fail you; when all your carefully laid plans have no meaning and all you can do is stand mute in her presence. You hope she takes pity on you and drops a few words of kindness into the vacuum of your mind.” p 298

Right? RIGHT?! You know how after reading Pride and Prejudice or watching the BBC version of the book girls all over the world were like, “I gotta find my Mr. Darcy?” Well, this will have all those girls who turned into ladies waiting for their Darcy wishing for a Major Pettigrew.

I cannot recommend this book enough. And I realize that I may be talking this up so much that you might read it and be like, “Meh…it is not as great as she said,” in which case ignore everything I said and just read the book. It really is a treasure.

4.8 coffee cups out of five. It is not a five because I have some quibbles with what the author had Mrs. Ali do in certain situations, considering she is a Muslim woman (and I am too).


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