I really liked this book. Yes, the characters are caricatures, with exaggerated faults. Yes, the Major comes across as a bit of a stick-in-the-mud. But that all adds to the comedy of manners. The witty dialog had me laughing out loud many times over. Like a television sit-com, do not expect this to be an accurate representation of life in small-town England. I loved the upside-down take on things: older people finding love, and the more tradition-bound characters actually being more open-minded and willing to change. Along the way the author isn't afraid to poke fun at cultural differences, the generation gap, religion, selfishness and greed. She reminds us that old people can love and grow, that good people sometimes make mistakes, and that the "quiet" things in life have value. This is a book that I will keep and reread. I hope there will be a sequel and perhaps a movie!
In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?