Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

A Novel

Book - 2010
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You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart.

The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2010.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781400068937
Branch Call Number: SIMONSON
Characteristics: 358 pages ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Mar 09, 2020

English country living in modern time, with traditional ways, e.g. the English house (cottage, manor, garden, cabin), golf, shooting game, country club (ball, feast), etc., detailed and enlivened in amusing narrations and witty repartee.
Aside from the leading man and woman - winkled love birds, Grace and Sandy surprised me in author's smart depiction. Twin Churchill's fate, in contrast with a predictable fate of the romance, manifest the moral, rather than dwelling on a disappointment.
A few exaggerations are not in sync with my sensibility though, I resonate with the clashes of race, religion, material wealth, property, class.

Feb 21, 2020

Overcoming racism in modern England. For background, try Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown. Although this book has ethnic Pakistanis as the objects of disrespect, Rushdie delves more thoroughly into the problems of empire, whether political or religious.

Feb 11, 2020

reference by julia spencer fleming

Jan 28, 2020

Loved it! I wish Masterpiece Theatre would produce this novel.

Jan 03, 2020

Charming and very sweet book. Good to know chivalry isn’t dead!

Sep 06, 2019

I guess this is a book that you love or dislike based on the many reviews. Put me in the like very much camp. If you love the English wit and propriety it will entertain you. Agree that it would make a great Masterpiece Theater piece.

May 13, 2019

Alcona Caledona

Feb 14, 2019

After a promising first chapter, I read two more ... and quit. Totally predictable.

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 30, 2018

A completely charming, humorous, and skillfully written romance of modern English manners. Don't be put off by the word "romance." -- this is entertaining for BOTH male and female readers.

Major Ernest Pettigrew, retired as a soldier and retired a second time as a teacher at a boys school, lives alone in a small English village. His life is jarred when he receives news that his brother has died suddenly from a heart attack. Ironically, at the same time he realizes he is becoming attracted to the Pakistani widow who runs the local market and discovers that life just might have meaning again. Nothing could be farther from English tradition than a retired major falling in love with a “foreign” shop keeper. And yet, Jasmina is more like him than anyone else he knows. She is English-born, educated, thoughtful, and also trapped by her family’s tradition, which devalues a woman’s independence.

Every paragraph is polished, with witty observations that make you want to turn to your friends and read aloud. Simonson is also a master of characterization, with even minor appearances coming to complete life and with most characters having multiple layers revealed. A kidnapping, a rescue, and an attempted murder ramp up the excitement later in the story, without taking anything away from the charm, but further revealing the character of the Major. A great book.

One of my favorite books from this year. The story of an unlikely friendship between retired Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper, in rural England. They are brought together by a shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses – first, with friendship, and then perhaps moving toward something more. Although the Major was actually born in Lahore, and Mrs. Ali was born in Cambridge, he is treated as the local, while she is seen as the foreigner. A wonderful and heartwarming book. (submitted by SB)

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Aug 06, 2016

bbock291 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Jan 30, 2011

Romance of a very English retired Major and a Pakistani shopkeeper in a small English village. Likeable characters, although some rather caricatured. Gentle humour. The plot is a bit thin with some unlikely events and the pace rather slow in the middle section.


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Aug 06, 2016

(Pettigrew is talking with Mrs. Ali about a proposed housing development for the rich.)

"...Makes me feel old and foolish." He said. "I assumed progress couldn't touch our little corner of the world."

"It's not about progress. It's about greed."


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