Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is very British, in a good way. Major Pettigrew, an elderly widower, lives in Edgecombe St. Mary. It’s a small town full of small minded people. Tradition is cherished; outsiders are shunned. Pettigrew is a retired military man, values king and country, good manners and British traditions. He treasures two military rifles passed down from his father who had been in the colonial army, one of which he owns, the other is held by his brother. He golfs. Widows and spinsters have their eyes on him.
The story opens with the Major just having learned of the death of his brother. Mrs. Ali, a local shopkeeper and widower has come for the newspaper money. He feels faint, she helps him, and thus begins an unlikely relationship.
At first the Major comes across as a right pain in the arse, until you meet his fellow villagers who could populate just about any Masterpiece Theater period piece. Mrs. Ali is well liked, but of course she is Pakistani, so there’s a place for her, and that is her shop. Outside of the shop she’s about as welcome as a case of the flu. She has pressures of her own, a family who disapproves of her continuing to run the business that in their eyes belonged to her husband, not to her.
Financial interests and tradition do battle at the family level between the major and his in-laws, and the major and his son Roger. The same pressures are acting on Edgecombe St Mary, which is threatened with the prospect of a high-end real estate development. And there’s a ridiculous incident at the golf club. The whole thing feels a bit like a modernized Pride and Prejudice and it works just fine. There’s plenty of humor to keep it light, and everything works out in the end.