…by Helen Simonson.
Major Ernest Pettigrew is in his late sixties, a widower and is perfectly content living in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary minding his own business. As he deals with the death of his younger brother he befriends the neighbourhood shop-owner, widowed Mrs. Ali. Over a love for literature, they begin to bond much to the consternation of the gossip-mongers in the village and his own self-absorbed son, Roger. As the Major and Mrs. Ali try to understand their feelings for one another, they also battle the rest of the villagers, Mrs Ali’s family including her nephew Abdul Wahid and the Major’s own family. Eventually, Major Pettigrew has to decide what matters most to him. Is it his family? Is it his obligations? Is it tradition? Or does love triumph all?
A beautifully woven story of inter-racial relationships, narrow-mindedness of society, and the shallowness of society is portrayed in this book. The villagers are on the one hand accepting of Mrs Ali so long as she maintains her status as a shopkeeper. However, once they sense a relationship between her and the Major developing, the ladies who consider themselves very Christian, are anything but tolerant. The Major’s son Roger is a prime example of self-centredness and obsession with image and all that is wrong with urban society today. The subtle racism of the villagers, the ignorance about different cultures and the honour code of some cultures is all portrayed beautifully in this debut novel.
All in all, it is a lovely story of love and society, giving you an insight into people and that one can never be too old to fall in love. I give it a rating of 4.
Until next time,