Thursday, June 17, 2010

Major Pettigrew makes his rounds

Betty Duffy bought a book and passed it to her sister.

Her sister read the book and passed it to her mother.

Their mother read the book and passed it to the grandmother.

The grandmother will read the book and will pass it to an aunt who will pass it to another aunt, and then it will go through the cousins.

Then they'll all go see the movie.  Or they'll dream about pooling their resources to go stay in a little cottage in a town in England like Edgecombe St. Mary's.

Actually I'm sorry I finished the book so soon, because I'd like to spend a few more hours in that world.

So although it is a rare event in our family to pay full price for a book, the $25 for Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, divided at least five ways turns out to be a very good deal for several hours of absorbing entertainment.

I wish I were as talented as Major Pettigrew at coming up with polite slights.  He says the things you only imagine you should have said hours after the conversation is over. And the objects of his pointed remarks rarely seem offended, or if they are slightly offended, as in the interesting conversation with Abdul Wahid when he is staying at the Major's, they end up having a meaningful discussion. I found it hard to believe, however, that Roger never felt more injured by the criticisms of his avarice.  But I did find it believable and likable that the Major recognized in himself the flaws of his son in his desire to possess the Churchill guns.  Since BD and I recently spent several hours with my aunt looking at our deceased grandmother's photographs, letters, and jewelry, this topic was fresh.  Our family hasn't suffered from disagreements over the division of our grandparents' household, but it's easy to see how a thing can become a totem almost of the original possessor and imbued with more value than the relationship with the siblings who actually are a living part of the original.

I also found myself wondering about Nancy, the first Mrs. Pettigrew.  She seemed so different from Mrs. Ali.  I suppose it is too much to ask that more be told about the relationship between Nancy and the Major in a novel like this.  My husband has always claimed that he wouldn't remarry if I died before him, but I wonder if I died relatively young, if he would marry someone completely different from me and how the kids would feel about it.  Sure to be complicated.


Steven Riddle said...

Hi All,

Certainly a favorite of mine in so many, many ways. I'm glad you all have taken it up.



mrsdarwin said...

Oh good, someone's started the conversation!

I finished up my copy this week (had some blessed quiet while the kids went to play at the neighbor's house) and I'm still pondering what I think about it. Overall, my reaction is very positive, and I do feel like the author, in the end, made almost all the characters rise above the stereotype level, and yet there are a few things that nag at me. I should write my own post... when the kids go over to the neighbor's again and give me more blessed quiet.