Tags

Share it

Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) is a very proper English widower who enjoys a properly brewed cup of tea. He leads a quiet life in Edgecombe St Mary, a village of thatched cottages and garden gates and thick lawns of clover clumps that were “evidence of the country always pressing in close, quietly sabotaging anyone who tried to manicure nature into suburban submission.”
Regarded as a permanent foreigner, Mrs. Jasmina Ali is the Pakistani shopkeeper who blends special teas for the Major in her Supersaver SuperMart. Many a local lady proudly spoke of “our dear Pakistani friends at the shop as proof that Edgecombe St. Mary was a utopia of multicultural understanding.” You’ll soon sense it is certainly no such utopia! Conflict abounds in this small village. To the dismay of the Major, there’s the annual club dance with historically dubious themes that often ignore an adherence to decorum. There’s a local Lord about to sell off his land to an American that will alter the village landscape. There’s a pair of matched Churchill shotguns given to the Major’s father by the Maharajah himself that needs to be reunited and passed down. (These handmade, well-oiled shotguns are as significant as any character in the book.) There’s a clash of culture and religion. There’s an old lady with a stabbing knitting needle. And there’s Major Pettigrew’s son, the dealmaker, who puts his father on speakerphone because his chiropractor doesn’t want him holding the phone under his chin and his barber doesn’t want him to use a headset that would encourage oily buildup and miniaturization of his follicles. Yeah, that kind of son.
At one point Mrs. Ali states, “One begins to accept, at a certain age, that one has already made all the friends to which one is entitled. One becomes used to them as a static set.” Unexpectedly, the Major and Mrs. Ali embark on a friendship, established at first by a love of literature and a shared grief from the loss of their spouses. Then it blossoms into something much more, taking everyone by surprise, including themselves. There are no vampires here, just a warm, intelligent modern- day love story.