Major Pettigrew, sixty-eight and a widower, has just learned that his younger brother has died of a heart attack when Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani widow and shop owner, rings the doorbell because he has forgotten to leave the newspaper money for the paper boy. When he becomes rather faint, she holds him up, comes in to make him some tea and thus begins a friendship between the two as they find they have common interests, such as literature. His relationship to his sister-in-law is somewhat strained, and questions arise as to the intentions of his late brother over an antique rifle that was supposed to be given to Major Pettigrew. But over all of this, the developing friendship, and the possibility that it just might end up being more, envelopes the loneliness of Pettigrew
What makes this story a 4.5 rounded up to a 5 is the writing, the pacing, the endearing qualities of Major Pettigrew and the fact that the secondary characters are developed, albeit interpreted through the Major’s eyes. At once we can see what he thinks of his son but also get a glimpse of how is son probably thinks even if, naturally, we can’t really know any more than we can really know what anyone else thinks. Simonson, who hails from England, captures the area and the attitudes of people in towns such as Pettigrew’s, well.