This book was unlike any that I have read before, and I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or not. First and foremost it appeared to be a social commentary, which is all well and good, but it was a very uncomfortable social commentary. Every situation that Major Pettigrew found himself in was uncomfortable to read about, and I often found myself cringing for him when he interacted with his brash son and his son’s fiancée. However, I did like Ms. Simonson’s word paintings of Mrs. Ali and the English countryside; I have to say that for a good portion of the book, Mrs. Ali was the only redeeming quality about it.
But by the end of the book, I found myself rooting for Major Pettigrew. He takes awhile for one to warm up to, I suppose. The premise of the book was the romance between Major Pettigrew and a Pakistani shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, after their respective spouses have died. I found the level of prejudice in Major Pettigrew’s village to be surprising, although small town life shouldn’t surprise me to that degree, since I have spent the majority of my life in a small town. There was also a side story of how much Major Pettigrew wants to reunite his pet Churchill shotgun with his deceased brother Bertie’s Churchill, since they were a matching pair. This seems to take precedence in the beginning of the book, yet by the end of the book this part of the story seems to have petered out, and the romance with Mrs. Ali has taken precedence.
Overall, I would rate Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand three out of five stars. It was enjoyable by the end, but it took me far too long to get into the story for it to earn a much higher rating. However, the ending was satisfactory, although a lot of action occurred within the last 30 or so pages; it felt a little bit like Ms. Simonson wanted to rush the ending and get the book over with, and the amount of action also felt counter to the rest of the book, which was not action-packed in the least.
Still, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys social commentary, British small town life, and a sweet romance between two middle-aged people.