‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett
“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson
This novel depicts an England of country villages, shooting with the Lord of the Manor on his estate, church on a Sunday, chats with the Vicar, in other words, a certain way of life familiar to some, but which would seem old fashioned and belonging to a different time to others. It would make for interesting discussion say for a book club, as to how realistic and relevant this view of England is, I would imagine. But at the same time the novel features multiculturalism, and it shows that romantic love can blossom anywhere, between anyone, and the author portrays negative and positive reactions amongst the other villagers to the Major and Mrs Ali. The Major's friend Grace argues that true, passionate love is what should be fought for and grasped in life, rather than a relationship that one has just settled for. The other romantic attachments such as those between the Major's son Roger and girlfriend Sandy, and Mrs Ali's nephew Abdul Wahid and girlfriend Amina serve to highlight how it can be difficult to maintain relationships that are not based on this, or for whom this is not enough.
There is a sub plot regarding a pair of expensive guns left to Major Pettigrew and his brother by their father, and the claims as to the future ownership of these runs throughout the novel and is the cause of various incidents. I wasn't keen on the shooting episode and so on, just a person opinion because I don't like that sort of thing at all.
There is a fair amount of humour in the novel too, in particular I found some of Mrs Ali's comments entertaining. I thought both Mrs Ali and Major Pettigrew were, on the whole, very likeable characters and I found myself cheering for them and for a happy conclusion. This is a nice, entertaining read, not very heavy or demanding, but with more depth than a light and fluffy book. I think I enjoyed this more than I thought I might.