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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a charming and funny novel by Helen Simonson which I would recommend to anyone looking for a book with a true feel-good factor which doesn't merely fall within the confines of 'chick lit'.
Ernest Pettigrew is a retired army officer living in a little English village which (as all English villages are portrayed in TV and books) is rife with gossip and officious members of the WRI. After the death of his brother, the major finds solace in the companionship of Mrs Ali who owns the village shop and the plot develops from there. Amusing subplots include the overbearing petulance of the major's son Roger and his on-going with his girlfriend/fiancee.
For such a little and deceptively quaint book, Simonson tackles real and pertinent issues such as racism, classism and the deterioration of respect for the older generation within our society. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is at once charming and witty and is a gem of a novel which I would recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting read. It is very reminiscent of the sort of gentle and considered prose in the work of Alexander McCall Smith (especially his Scotland Street series) so if you like him, I think you'll like this.