Genre: Romance / General Fiction
Major Pettigrew's is a pensioner, widowed, living a sedate life , a minor pillar in the community and the object of much debate by the ladies of the Parish. He is an expert on Kipling and loves proper tea blends. He likes routine and relies on structure to fill his days.
A sudden family bereavement, the sudden realisation that he has more than a passing respect and attraction for the kind Mrs Ali, a widowed shopkeeper of Pakistani origin who catches him at his lowest point of grief . Throw into this mix a pair of heirloom Churchill Rifles, single mothers, Golfers,Landed Gentry and family issues and you have the perfect recipe for a delightful read!
This is no soft and cuddly village green story. Indeed the setting is cosy, cottages, Golf club dances,Church groups and Shoots at the "The Big House", it does however hide some sharper more caustic subject matters of racism, religious commitment, greed and misogyny. It touches on the gentrification of the countryside at the expense of locals and it is really quite a telling examination of a lot of the real issues in villages across the country.
This is to all intents and purposes a love story between two people of a certain age who are perfectly suited,intellectually, emotionally and physically and yet their own scruples seek to keep them apart. Both have tricky, some might say; obnoxious,families. The traditionalist Muslim family who keeps a deeply religious nephew on hand to oversee Mrs Ali, despite the fact she assisted her beloved husband run their village store unaided for decades. The nephew has his own demons to fight and is deeply disapproving. Mrs Ali is weighed and measured by judgemental contemporaries who seek only to climb socially at the public expense of their "Friend"
Even their platonic activities as friends are placed under microscopic scrutiny by the village, The Major who is to his own mind an independent spirit begins to realise that his familial pride, the need to keep the Pettigrew's name sacrosanct is actually an impediment to his happiness. His son is seemingly more concerned about the bottom line than spending quality time and the village ladies make it abundantly clear what they feel about his seeking companionship outside their social milieu and ethnic group. She is in Trade for heaven's sake
This is an immensely warm and entertaining book filled with tongue in cheek asides, clever comments and a realistic love affair beset by real life obstacles rather than the normal misinformation or misunderstanding. It makes the heartwarming ending much more satisfying when it actually comes.