What a perfectly lovely premise is what I thought when I read the back of this book. It really did not disappoint. Firstly, I can’t resist the English countryside, and second, I really love a simple story that is multi-faceted, not overly detailed, with just enough to make me want to be present when I begin my reading.
Ernest Pettigrew is a no- nonsense type who abhors impolite, materialistic, loud mouthed, modern-day youth and has no tolerance for less than civil behavior towards anyone from the elderly to those who are of foreign descent, especially recently widowed Mrs Ali who is the shopkeeper at the local store. Located in the sweet village of Edgecombe St. Mary, this is a story of discovery and friendship, much frowned upon by people of the village who secretly harbor a dislike towards the Alis’ and their Pakistani heritage long before Mr Ali even passed away. There is the introduction of Mrs Ali’s nephew who is extremely unlikable( he seems to share extremist views) chauvinistic (and what bugged me the most about him was that he never ever smiled) because he thinks a woman should not run a store, let alone be the boss of him. All of this is important to the story. The author very cleverly and quite beautifully throws the old- fashioned Pettigrew into a debilitating grief at losing his only brother, then makes him deal with a growing irritation at his newly widowed sister-in-law for trying to auction off a family heirloom which should have come to him in the first place, and most importantly makes him question his entire belief system because he has to navigate newly discovered romantic feelings at this late age, which takes him by surprise and all of this whilst setting the perfect stage for the village gossip mongers to pass judgement on his progressive thinking and behavior.
This book made me think a little bit about what it is to experience prejudice due to ethnicity, but even more so when it is directed by members of one’s own family.