Narrator: Peter Altschuler
Source: Sacramento Library (I also own an hardcopy)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Random House Audio
Length: 13 hours, 8 minutes
Pages: 384 (print version)
Challenges: 2012 Audio Book Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Synopsis (from the Book Description): Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
Overall Impression: This is another one of those novels that seemed to get high reviews all around, so I was a little skeptical that I might be The-Night-Circus-style over-hyped. Thankfully, though, to combat the over-hyping I went into it with my expectations fairly low, and I was pleasantly surprised. While it had its cheesy romantic comedy moments, this novel was filled with a lot of heart, backed by solid writing, deep ethical dilemmas, and an engaging plot. I think I found so much of it lovely because it was a late-in-life love story — it felt very realistic, since these two people know who they are and what they want out of life and exactly what will make them happy. It’s very easy to love Major Pettigrew — with his staid British ways, his desire for decorum and respect, and his abhorrence of much of modern society — as well as Mrs. Ali, who has everything one loves in an older woman, including dignity, a humorous streak, and a deep sense of duty (and the knowledge of when to go against it). The supporting cast gets a little cliched, but for the most part, they are nice bunch as well.
Positives: Overall, it was just one of those books to be enjoyed. A lovely read all around.
Negatives: Everything wraps up very neatly at the end. Even the messy parts are somehow a little too tidy.
Narration: I really loved Peter Altschuler’s narration of this book. He was able to handle a host of different British accents, and I really felt the emotion he put in the voices of the characters. I’d love to listen to other books he’s narrated.
Other books I’ve read by Helen Simonson: none
Other books I’ve listened to narrated by Peter Altschuler: none
Other blogger opinions:
A Lifetime of Books: “And it bugs me that the book brought up a very important issue then simply brushed it aside: can a mixed religion marriage really work?”
Just a Book Worm: “The plot did have some cheesy twists, but overall it’s a very well written and enjoyable book.
S. Krishna’s Books: “She never drags the reader down with heavy subjects though; they are expertly incorporated in the story, such that the reader doesn’t even realize there’s any sort of social commentary taking place until after the scene has passed.”