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 respective 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 her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
This book is so very English. It’s like the old world Empire state of mind with all the prejudices and manners above all meeting the newer, more multicultural England and how Pettigrew (being from the old England) confronts and deals with it. He has to face how his son behaved worse than the American he lived with (the horror that Pettigrew had as this was quite amusing) and how Mrs Ali wasn’t the only one that was being held back by tradition. The Major is very sweet at times and you watch him develop along the course of the book.
The setting in the small English village was spot on and I love how the different characters were introduced without confusing them and making it obvious where they stood in the village. The variety of people in the village was very on point.
The only thing that I think let the book down was the dramatic cliff scene near the end. It came out of nowhere and it didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the book. It was like the author couldn’t think of a way to tie up that plot point without it.
On the other hand the actual ending was lovely and really nice to read. Four stars for this book!