Thursday, March 10, 2011

Murfreesboro reader finds important lesson in Major Pettigrew

Murfreesboro resident Michelle Palmer, an avid reader and local fitness instructor, contemplates the lessons readers may find in the pages of Major Pettigrew:

In today’s hustle and bustle world, there are few things that we slow down for anymore. Everything from food to information to books is available to us instantly; we are a nation of people “on the go.” The One Book One Community’s pick for this year, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, shows us the importance of slowing down and enjoying the little things in life.

As a novel, Major Pettigrew is character-driven, not plot driven. In our hurried times, that can be a difficult adjustment. We have become accustomed to action and instant gratification, and events that unfold in Major Pettigrew do so at a leisurely pace. This delightful book is to be savored slowly, like a fine meal. There are no explosions or random acts of violence, and while there is a cliffhanger, it is a literal one, not figurative. That’s not to say that the book doesn’t have humor, action, and drama, but much like other classic novels that have gone before it, they accentuate rather than define the plot.

Set in a small village outside London, Major Pettigrew is almost timeless. While there are signs that the 21st century exists, the old customs and traditions still remain. The main characters, Major Pettigrew and his friend Mrs. Ali, take walks together, and have afternoon tea, and read to each other. They communicate through letters and impromptu visits. Through their eyes, we see the joy of living in the moment, and enjoying each day as it comes.

Much like Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, to truly enjoy Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, you must set aside that need to rush, and instead appreciate the minutiae of daily life. Take the time to learn about the Major’s quirks and his stuffy British ways, and Mrs. Ali’s struggles with her heritage and family demands. Laugh at the one-liners and dry wit that makes Major Pettigrew such a delightful character. Relish the romance that blossoms between two people bound by a love of reading.

There are many reasons to appreciate the One Book One Community choice for this year, but perhaps the most compelling is that it reminds us, as readers, that sometimes life is more than just the next big thing. Sometimes, life is all the unique little things we find along the way – if we slow down long enough to look for them.

Michelle Palmer is an avid reader and has been a member of a local book club for ten years. Having worked as a writer and editor since college, she recently began a book blog,, so that she could share her love of reading with others. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is included on her blog as one of her “Favorite Books of 2010.”

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