This book is set in England with a male protagonist of the senior citizen variety. If ever there was a character that I shouldn't have much in common with, it would Mr. Major Pettigrew. He's old and grumpy and likes shooting stuff for fun, and yet I love him. I love his grumpiness, his commitment to "values", his indignation over peoples' lack of propriety and most of all his kind heart. A character like Major Pettigrew could easily be a caricature, the sweet or grumpy old man, but he's neither, he's flawed, confused and surprisingly, naive. More important than any of these qualities though is that Major Pettigrew, as the title implies, is making a last stand for love. At an age when so many people resign themselves to reminscing on what was, and settling comfortably into the known, Major Pettigrew is daring to dream of something more.
You will not only love Major Pettigrew but you will long to cheer him on. When he fails the one he loves the most at the books first climax and stands brokenhearted "wanting to be a better man and not knowing how" you will want to push him off into the darkness and say "You can do it! You can be better Major, I believe in you! Go chase her and confess your love!"
Or maybe that was just me.
It's unbelievable to me that this book is Helen Simonson's first novel, if ever there was a person born to write, it was her. By the end of the book I felt that I was a Senior citizen living in England, each of the characters were so real to me. I ripped through this book in a few days, which is saying something because I have a full-time job, a toddler and a very busy True-Blood watching/Mexican-Food cooking schedule.