Rummanah Aasi
  Have you ever felt guilty in not liking a book that everyone has seemingly read and loved except for you? Or where you read the reviews of a book and have a high expectations for it only to be completely let down and disappointed? Well, welcome to my world. I just spent most of my weekend trudging through Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson and would like to get my hours reading back.

Description: Major Pettigrew is a very proper, English widower of 68 who resides in the quaint village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex, England. He is the father of Roger, a social climber and selfish young man who feels the values of his father are archaic. The Major is also the accidental suitor of the village mini-mart owner, Jasmina Ali, a 50-something Pakistani widow who shares his love of Kipling and his company. The two of them must navigate the gossip and outright prejudice of their stilted society in order to be together.

Review: I really wanted to love this book. It has a charming setting and writing style. The Major and Mrs. Ali are both likable main characters. Despite all this, I found the book flat, slow moving, and filled with stereotypes.
    When I began this book I was intrigued on how the author is going to explain the tumultuous history between Pakistan and England, particularly of how Pakistani-British citizens are treated in contemporary England, but the book doesn't talk about the issue pretty much at all. Sure, there are misconceptions and a scene of an reenactment of the violent Partition happening at a dinner party, but the author doesn't go in depth nor do the characters really seem to care. I know this book isn't meant to be a political analysis on race relations, but when it is marketed as a (paraphrasing the book jacket): "an examination on race, religion, and a clash of cultures", the book falls flat. In fact, the majority of the story, I would argue, is not about Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali's relationship, but rather the ongoing conflict of who will own the precious pair of guns that the Major inherits.
  In addition to being mislead, I was constantly annoyed when Mrs. Ali's nationality of being a Pakistani who was born in Britain is constantly viewed as Indian. Though Pakistan and India share similarities, they are entirely two different countries with very different cultures. I was also bothered that Mrs. Ali's extended family were stereotypical Pakistanis who were rigid, ignorant, and frankly 'backwards'.
  While the Major is charming and funny, I found him caught in between preserving his old English traditions and yet at the same time willing to abandon them without any care as long as got Mrs. Ali. To be honest, I didn't care for the Major and Mrs. Ali's relationship mainly because it wasn't developed beyond small meetings between the characters. I wasn't convinced that they loved one another, but rather used one another as a way to avoid being lonely. Overall, a big disappointment and very misleading.    

Rating: 2 stars


Words of Caution: There's mild language and sex is alluded to in the book. It's definitely an adult book since the characters are adults. Teens would get very bored with the book and it's very slow moving plot.

If you like this book try: The Three Weissmann of Westport by Cathleen Schine
2 Responses
  1. So many books...so little time. Thanks for the heads up on this one!


  2. Safoora Says:

    I feel the same way about Eat Pray Love!


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