I think part of my dislike for Brooklyn could be attributed to how much I liked Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I read/listened to the two over the same few days, and Helen Simonson’s did such a great job with the gentle romance in this novel — set in modern times but with decidedly “old fashioned” characters — that it I think it made me dislike Eilis even more.
“But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?”
“My dear boy,” said the Major. “Is there really any other kind?”
Major Pettigrew is in his late 60s, living in the little village where he grew up and still missing his wife Nancy, who passed away six years ago. The sudden death of the Major’s brother Bertie launches him into a few new situations. He gets into arguments with his family about a set of antique guns that should have been reunited upon Bertie’s death, is forced to deal with his lazy son, and begins to spend time with the Pakistani shopkeeper in town, Mrs. Jasmina Ali (also a widow). As their romance begins to slowly blossom, the Major starts to come out of his shell — but in the process, realizes some of the not so nice aspects of his old-fashioned little town.
I really liked this book — the Major may be “an old git”, but he has a fantastic dry humor and quick wit. Jasmina comes across as very intelligent, with a sharp tongue of her own. Her family has its own set of drama that occurs throughout the novel, and Simonson does a great job of handling it without turning the characters into caricatures.