Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) of Edgecombe St. Mary is the epitome of decorum. He's a member of the golf club, is on speaking terms with the local Lord Dagenham, and keeps his late wife's garden neat and tidy.
The widowed Mrs. Ali Jasmania Ali, owner of the village shop, has a sharp mind and kind heart. Although she was born in England, most of the villagers have a hard time seeing past her Pakistani background.
The two are unexpectedly brought together the day the major's brother dies. Will their families and friends understand their surprising and blossoming friendship?
The major of Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is comfortable in his world of familiar routine. His social-climbing son is a thorn in his side, but Roger is safely tucked away in London, out of sight and mostly out of mind. Mrs. Ali feels fortunate to have inherited her husband's business but is resentful of her in-laws' plans that Abdul Wahid, her nephew, be trained to take charge of the shop. When their lives collide and overlap, the major and Mrs. Ali rediscover their inner spunkiness and embrace a bit of selfishness.
Simonson's novel is an utterly charming look at village life, second chances, British snobbery, Anglophile Americans, religion, family pressures, secret jealousies, ageism, and most of all unlooked-for middle-age love.
Although I received an ARC of the novel, I chose to listen to the unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio), read by Peter Altschuler, whose British and Pakistani accents for both men and women were near perfect. His American accents seemed slightly forced, but that may have been a conscious decision, strengthening the contrasts among the cultures. Altschuler did a particularly good job conveying the wide range of emotions and levels of humor found in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
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