August 09, 2017

Helen Simonson's Absorbing Read - "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand"


What is it about romance that makes this world more palatable, even rosier! Helen Simonson's novel "The Last Stand of Major Pettigrew" does just that. It looks at racial tensions, gender disparity, old age, and a dysfunctional family unit with humor and empathy, and that is what makes the novel so enchanting. 

The story revolves around an unlikely and disapproved liaison between a retired Englishman and a Pakistani widow both of who live in a small and scenic village in England. The picturesque setting and the witty dialogue cleverly camouflage the racism and snobbishness that exist in the village, and the reader for the most part enjoys a humorous and heartwarming tale of romance. However, every now and again, there are dialogues that could well be aphorisms about gender issues, and human relationships. Luckily, they don't dampen the light hearted banter between characters which makes the novel so enjoyable. The novel is a must read for an older reader as it explores the changes, both personal and social, that come about in an older person's life many of which are hard to face and others hard to accept; like Shelly said, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts." Again, there is nothing really 'sad' about the novel. It is upbeat, easy to read, and funny; yet, for those with a finer sensibility, it will leave you some resonating questions.

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