Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Predictable and sappy though it may be, I still found this book more enjoyable than most of that ilk. I love the name Pettigrew in this book, because it sounds so much like "pedigree." The main character, a retired major, is haughty and decorous, while at the same time striving to prove that being a member of polite society does not necessarily imply bigotry. If only the same could be said for the other members of his club, including the vicar and his wife. Major Pettigrew is such a winsome man, even though he bristles when some plebe addresses him as "Mr.," that I felt his book needed a sequel. He and Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper, have both lost their spouses and find that they share an appreciation for Kipling. As their bond deepens, their respective family issues complicate their lives and their relationship. Pettigrew's grown son Roger begins to doubt that his father has full command of his faculties. Roger has his father's sense of propriety but not his warmth, practicality, and tolerance. Mrs. Ali's nephew, whom Mrs. Ali is grooming to take over her shop, has fathered a son, but he is conflicted about how to remedy the situation in conjunction with his Islamic faith. The community, however, is even more of a problem, seeing in the budding relationship a sign of the times that needs to be held off as long as possible. Major Pettigrew delivers some snappy retorts and surprises himself, I believe, with his capacity to withstand disapproval. He shows courage in the face of danger, both the life-threatening kind and the life-stifling kind.

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