REVIEW: Major Pettigrews Last Stand, Helen Simonson

This is one of those slightly battered second hand books that I’ve had for a while. My mam bought and read this book a while back and it has been hidden amongst the pile (mountain) of ‘To Read’ books in my house. After a couple of disappointing books, one of which I didn’t finish and had been looking forward to reading for a while, I knew that I needed something a bit lighter, but also quirky. Basically, something to fill the Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine shaped hole in my life.

Major Pettigrew is an old-fashioned English eccentric, he has served his country, married a woman he loves dearly and had a son who has been spoiled. Major Pettigrew still lives in the idyllic village where he raised his son, but his wife died a few years previously and life just hasn’t been the same since.

At the beginning of the novel, Major Pettigrews brother dies leaving a gun which is a pair, the other one belongs to Major Pettigrew. Not is the question of whether to reunite the pair and keep them, as Major Pettigrews father intended, or to see the guns and make a fortune for his son and niece. As the family try to decide what to do, we are introduced to the intricacies of the village society, from the snobby golf club to the local paper shop. The village is a microcosm of old-fashioned Britain. There are prejudices, rumour and loneliness.

I really enjoyed this book and don’t want to give too much away, but what Simonson does really well is to look at issues that effect Britain as a whole, but within the smaller scale of village life. She shows how relationships between families can go wrong and how lonely individuals can be, no matter what age. She also shows how being from the same background isn’t important, but making a connection with someone is.

Funny and heartfelt, this is a perfect next read if, like me, you have recently finished a book you loved and are wondering where to go next.

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