Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the small rural English village of Edgecombe St Mary where he values the proper things that Englishmen have treasured for generations - honour, duty, decorum and a properly brewed cup of tea. The Major takes pleasure in his well-organised and rational life until he finds out that his patronising son, and the kind yet interfering ladies of the village, seem to have their own, rather special plans for him.
It takes news of his brother's death, though, to open the Major's eyes to Mrs Jasmina Ali, the village shopkeeper, and confound all those carefully laid plans. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But although the Major was actually born in Lahore, and Mrs Ali in Cambridge, village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as a permanent foreigner.
A most unlikely hero, Major Pettigrew finds himself contending with irate relatives and an outraged village before he comes to understand his own heart.
Written with warmth, feeling and a delightfully dry sense of humour, this very modern love story will have you cheering wildly for the Major and Mrs Ali and believing that sometimes life does give you a second chance.
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.