Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) is a widower living quietly in his home village of St. Mary, England when his life suddenly becomes complicated. Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a widow with a shop in the village, happens by shortly after the major learns of his brother’s sudden death. Her kind offer to drive him to his sister-in-law’s house leads them both down paths neither ever imagined. Budding attractions – physical, emotional, and intellectual, surface, as do cultural differences and insecurities. The culture of the English village and the Pakistani family structure collide fiercely as these two lonely, vulnerable, and caring people try to find their way through a growing friendship and mutual affection.
There are multiple layers to the story, but they are clearly written and the various personalities are well defined. These people seem very real. Simonson paints it all with a brush liberally dipped in that dry British humor that so many of us love. The planning and execution of the annual golf club’s ball is exquisite in its depiction of the ridiculous in the power struggles and pettiness inherent in village life. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a story with serious underpinnings told with humor and believability. I laughed, cried, and cheered my way through it.