Regine Haensel

I loved this book, but I have 2 things that bothered me a little. I haven't been to England, so I don't know, are villages there really as closed to differences as this book implies? And, Major Pettigrew is only 68 yet in some ways he seemed older, in fact, at times I though him an Agatha Christie character rather than a modern man. Is this a true portrayal of a modern retired English soldier?

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Sherri Robinson I have found that many career military men are very dependent on their wives to negotiate life as a civilian. Their bafflement of navigating daily life can make them appear older when out of the routine. I thing small towns are universal because the people stay in them generation after generation. Staying means holding to the past and not even thinking there are different ways of doing things and being uncomfortable with changes. We've done it this way for decades, what is wrong with that?
Heather S I agree with Lindsay...the story is "spot on" as they say. I used to live in England, in a little village, and I found myself relating to this story time and again. Also, it might be helpful to know that in England (and in the rest of the UK), there is a very large Pakistani population. The author caught the dynamic of this very well, among other things. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Lindsay Smith I have only just started this book, so I don't yet know the answers to your questions, but I will let you know. What I would say is that I'm reading the book after it was recommended to me by my Mum, who rabbited on for about 10 minutes about all the little details that were 'just so spot on'. Given that my grandfather and one uncle were both in the RAF and my other uncle is retired Army. Both aunts/uncles live in tiny English villages. My family also has close ties with India (which apparently is relevant). Apparently it was so good, even my Dad wants to read it - and he usually doesn't venture beyond thrillers.
Will keep you posted from my little English village :-)
Alexandra Roach I have only just started so I can't comment on the age thing... I would say though there is a marked difference between those who were young in the forties and fifties like my parents and those who were young in the sixties like my mum's much younger half sister. At seventeen my mother was wearing twinsets like her mother and had been working for a year. My aunt at seventeen was wearing miniskirts and going to festivals and so on. As for the villages... well we had an ethnically Indian couple take over the local post office where I used to live, in a very white area on the South coast and while most people really appreciated the much improved service they offered (and personally I will always be grateful for the kindness they showed to my by then very ancient father) but there were at least a few incidents that I know off which indicated that not everyone did.
Jackie I thought the same thing about them portraying him as a old man. I hike the White Mountains and have friends that age who leave me in the dust!
Linda In a word Regine, NO. I agree with you 100%. I could not identify with any character in this book. The Major was far too gallant, even though he was ex military even in spite of it. Considering his strangely perfectly mannered father and upbringing, his son was overbearing in the extreme and rude to his father. The Major was like an Edwardian gentleman out for a stroll with his cane, (cane?) He spoke like no Englishman I know (I'm over 70) and acted even more like the old gentlemen I used to see out and about when I was a child in the 1950's. I find it rather disconcerting to find so many people didn't find this book incongruous at all. Men of 68 (even in villages) have tattoos, piercings, often use foul language, and have never read a book in their lives unless it was about football or sex. I found the book odd, incongruous, and sheer whimsical fantasy. The ice cream seller seemed the only normal person in the story and I was suddenly thrown violently from 1950's England to the 21st century in one sentence. My Village is nothing like Edgecome St Mary. Young mums (who can afford to live here) stick together, middle aged go on walks with their dog(s) older ones sit at home and get bored or tend their gardens. Not many are idle gossipers because no one knows anyone anymore. Most people mind their own business for the same reason. The youngsters have moved out because they can't afford the high priced houses in rural England, and the old timers are few and far between. I have seen my quintessential English village change from a 3000 population of post war young families in the 1950's, with a string of shops, to a suburban sprawl of around 10,000, maybe more, with one shop, a bypass, and where no one knows anyone anymore. If I venture out into the once lively hub, I see no one I know or grew up with. It might be like Edgecombe in the Cotswolds or the Dales, but here in West Sussex, village life died alongside bypasses and housing estates.
Linda I agree. It's not that he seems completely elderly, it seems like he lives in the early 1900s.
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by Helen Simonson (Goodreads Author)
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