This book is definitely recommended for my mother and stepmother.
Major Pettigrew lives in the small town of Edgecomb and is a staunch, utterly British major tinkering away his final years in small town society.
Then his brother dies, and he finds himself floundering. Not only are the relationships that formed the basis of his well-ordered world changing, but he will be forced to take place in the changing structure of the village itself as Pakistani-British history and current ethnic tensions are brought to the fore with the elite gold club’s bungling Maharaji-themed ball.
There is a lovely, slow, lyrical development of a relationship with a widowed Jasmina Ali who runs the village shop. There is a long-standing enstrangement between the Major and his son, a literal symbol of the materialistic world outside the village, and an illegitimate child that forces the Major to confront his own ideas about pride and honor.
Underneath the dialogue is a constant strain of deathly polite irony and humor that is a pleasure to read. I also was fascinated by a glimpse into how small town village life in Sussex has still to shrug off layers of caste and privilege and blatant racism that seems odd to my American brain.
Regardless of the wonderful themes and dialogues, I fell in love with Jasmina and the Major, and was very sad to leave them on the last page.
This Book’s Food Designation Rating: A cup of Earl Grey tea and a lovely pistachio-topped basmati rice pudding for the bracing quality of the Major and the creamy lusciousness of the relationships and peek into small village life.