Major Ernest Pettigrew, Royal Sussex, retired, born in Lahore and now of Rose Lodge, Edgecombe St Mary, is a traditional man, living a traditional life. Widowed and coping with the death of his younger brother, the alien beliefs and standards of his son and an increasing realisation that the old ways are disappearing, the Major tries to live with dignity and decency.
Meanwhile, Mrs Ali, village shopkeeper, not retired, born in Cambridge and now also of Edgecombe St Mary, struggles with widowhood, family and cultural traditions and an increasing realisation that some old ways are, sadly, not disappearing.
In her debut novel, Simonson demonstrates she can write with the lightness of McCall Smith and the wit of Alan Bennett to produce a mature, romantic story.
Verdict: A different kind of love story, delightful, sensitive and heartwarming. I’m not a fan of romantic fiction, but I confess I was really rooting for the “happy couple” and eager to know how it all turned out. A joy to read, wryly amusing and genuinely believable. I look forward to Simonson’s next book. *****