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Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

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Major Ernest Pettigrew is perfectly content to lead a quiet life in the
sleepy village of Edgecombe St Mary, away from the meddling of the
locals and his overbearing son. But when his brother dies, the Major
finds himself seeking companionship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs 
Ali. Drawn together by a love of books and the loss of their partners,
they are soon forced to contend with irate relatives and gossiping
villagers. The perfect gentleman, but the most unlikely hero, the Major
must ask himself what matters most: family obligation, tradition or 
Funny, comforting and heart-warming, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand proves that sometimes, against all odds, life does give you a second chance.
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    It surprised him that his grief was sharper than in the past few days. He had forgotten that grief does not decline in a straight line or along a slow curve like a graph in a child’s maths book. Instead, it was almost as if his body contained a big pile of garden rubbish full both of heavy lumps of dirt and of sharp thorny brush that would stab him when he least expected it.
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    “They surely can’t force you . . .” he began.

    “Not legally,” she said. “My wonderful Ahmed broke with family tradition to make sure the shop came to me. However, there are cer­tain debts to be paid. And then again, what is the rule of law against the weight of family opinion?” She made a left turn, squeezing into a small gap in the hurtling traffic of the coast road. “Is it worth the struggle, one must ask, if the result is the loss of family and the breaking of tradition?”
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    “I’m not feeling as washed out as before,” he said. “You drive very well.”

    “I like to drive,” she said, smiling at him. “Just me and the engine. No one to tell me what I should be doing. No accounts, no inventory—just the possibilities of the open road and many unseen destinations.”

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