I loved this book. It follows all the themes I love – how convention blinds us, how our cultural assumptions make us unconsciously snobbish and leads us to hideous behavior, it is very cultural and also very cross-cultural. Major Pettrigrew is widowed, and his grief has made him old. At the beginning of the book, his life seems very dull and grey. It lightens as his friendship sparks with Mrs. Ali, a widow who runs a small convenience market in his small English village. They both love reading (of course I love that part!) and they talk books, and sparks of warmth kindle.
This book is also very uncomfortable for me, as Roger has a grown son who bullies his father. The book isn’t just cross-cultural, it’s cross-generational, and I see glimpses of myself in the boorish behavior of his son toward his father.
There are some amusing scenes, some wickedly insightful village-interaction scenes, some painfully introspective moments, and some truly grand moments when everything becomes clear and a person acts. For me, there was an added bonus in that as I read Mrs. Ali’s words, I could hear them so clearly, and she spoke in the voice of a dear friend. I could picture her, because I could see the sweet smiling face of a dear friend. It was like having a great visit.