I can't seem to escape the books with Brits. First there was Pride and Prejudice. Then it was The Uncommon Reader. And I just finished Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a novel caught somewhere between Jane Austen and the 21st Century.
This is the story of an old-school brit, Major Pettigrew. He's a widower who's brother has just died. And that means two antique rifles (given to his father by the Maharajah for saving a young wife) should now be united. The father had split them at his death giving one to each of his sons with the understanding that whoever died last would reunite the pair.
But there's a whole lot more to this story. There's the village shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, a mature women of Indian descent who enters the Major's life at a time when he seems convinced that romance is no longer option. Add to that the ladies of the local country club planning their annual theme ball, a son who just can't relate to his father's traditional ways, and a few outrageous Americans, and you have a story that's just delightful. And it's all wrapped in some top notch writing.
For a first-time novelist, Simonson is a dang good writer, with a voice that captures both the British stiff upper lip and the vulnerability of an improbable romance. She can even hold her own when the story turns toward action adventure.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a lot of fun and filled with humanity. So it gets a solid Read It! rating.