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I don’t know what I had expected when picking up MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND, but what I found was a comforting read, similar to going back to my parent’s house – it’s welcoming and warm; almost from a different time – and you feel right at home with Major Pettigrew and Jasmina Ali.
The characters are discreetly clever – I found myself chuckling (I feel like that’s an appropriately old fashioned word) at their antics and the Major’s thoughts and actions. An upstanding and opinionated gentleman, the Major was of a different world and I had a hard time remembering that this book was taking place in present day. When text messaging was mentioned in passing I’d get a little jolt as the story was often so quaint and the opposite of modern (until Pettigrew’s son, more tk).
Unlike NYC apartment searches when “quaint and cozy” mean good luck trying to fit a twin bed in the bedroom, “quaint and cozy” are compliments as this is no small novel. It looks at the influences of social class and race and society’s expectations.
At its heart, it’s a love story – one of different values and characters than we typically find in society these days. Major Pettigrew and Jasmina are both widowed and definitely “over the hill” – but by no means dried up and stagnant in intelligence, wit, and heck – sexuality! This is a book I’d love for my grandmother to read, as I feel these love stories are often overlooked for the wrinkle-free versions.
Major Pettigrew’s son was just terrible, but also only too believable. I’ve seen his type – the young, slick guys in finance whose sole ambition in life is to be as rich as possible and have that be known, at the expense of others. This was epitomized by his BLACK Christmas tree, to match his modern house – absolutely no warmth or sense of tradition. I was horrified at the way he treated his father and cringed at the lack of respect. I like to think he did defrost a little towards the end… No spoilers though – you have to read it yourself!
My favorite passage in the book was when Pettigrew was hoping to help Jasmina make friends and fit in with the social crowd, but his (understated) humor went –
“He could not, in good conscience, promote any association with Daisy Green and her band of ladies. He could more easily recommend gang membership or fencehopping into the polar bear enclosure at the Regents Park zoo.” -pg 113
This was Helen Simonson’s debut novel, and I look forward to whatever comes next. Helen is a true Brit who I wager takes milk in her tea, but she now lives on the East Coast. You can connect with Helen on her website or via her Facebook page.
I suggest MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND to anyone looking for a charming read that will take their mind off their own pressing matters. I am so thankful TLC Tours introduced me to this fabulous story and talented writer & I suggest you visit the rest of the tour stops, listed here.
And, just because I think it’s fascinating, here’s the UK cover – what do you think? I like the tea cups, but don’t think the style and colors correctly portray the story. This looks more like the hipster’s version of MAJOR PETTIGREW to me!