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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by…
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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Helen Simonson

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4,3553821,132 (3.97)674
Member:vhaskell
Title:Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel
Authors:Helen Simonson
Info:Random House (2010), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition, 379 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Work details

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

  1. 465
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Readers will enjoy White Teeth and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand for their character development and humor, along with lighthearted treatment of serious topics such as race relations, religious fanaticism, self-understanding, and similar aspects of modern English life.… (more)
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» See also 674 mentions

English (383)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (391)
Showing 1-5 of 383 (next | show all)
A delightful and funny little book. Major Pettigrew is a very proper gentleman who scandalizes the little English village where he lives, by his friendship with the Pakistani shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali. A love story with two (past) middle-aged, engaging protagonists. ( )
  CindaMac | Mar 26, 2017 |
I found this book to be a joyful delight, well worth the buzz it has received in recent years. It's a literary fiction novel about a romance between a 67-year-old retired British Major and a 57-year-old Pakistani shopkeeper, and it thoughtfully analyzes issues of race, culture, and privilege in a small British village. My one big complaint is that so many of the characters are selfish and unlikable (especially at the beginning) that it seemed too inevitable that the Major and Jasmina would come together, as they were the only decent people around! However, many characters gain more complexity as the book goes on. I appreciated Simonson's balanced look at various aspects of British society, from the old country stock to the modern up-and-comings to Muslim immigrants. This seems destined to be a Masterpiece Theatre piece. ( )
  ladycato | Mar 25, 2017 |
What a heart-warming absolutely charming novel, and it is Helen Simonson's first. As soon as I finished I was checking to see if she has written more...she has!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand captures the unlikely attraction of a 68 year old widower and a 57 year old widow for one another, in spite of differing cultures and the rigid, though plausibly deniable, prejudice of family and friends.

Earnest Pettigrew, born in India while his father served in the waning days of Great Britain's Colonial rule over India, is a retired major in the British military and represents all that is proper and dependable in historically British culture. Jasmina Ali is ethnically Pakistani, but actually born and raised in Cambridge. She is a shopkeeper in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary, where Major Pettigrew now lives alone in his ancestral home.

Their friendly relationship of shopkeeper and shop patron begins to blossom when they discover their mutual love of literature and a good cup of tea. Mrs Ali comes to his door one morning to collect the paper route money for the ailing paper boy. He has just learned of the unexpected death of his only brother and is in shock. Mrs. Ali steps inside to guide him to a chair and make him a cup of tea. The major doesn't recognize this as budding romance, but he does know he must find any usable excuse to spend time with this beautiful lady.

The cast of characters includes the major's arrogant, self absorbed son and Mrs. Ali's rigidly religious self-absorbed nephew, both of whom are wary of the budding relationship while finessing romantic liaisons themselves. There are also the ladies of the village, who are trying to arrange a relationship between the major and one of their unattached village ladies. There are also the men of the village, mostly husbands of the aforementioned ladies, who are members of the local golf club, and are most thoughtful and alert when trying to avoid their wives.

The prose is witty and a pleasure to read and the themes (culture and race bias, generational prejudice, the clash of patriotic assumptions, the awkwardness of mature courtship) are nuanced, moving the story along to an unexpected climax and a satisfactory conclusion.

It is our book club pick this month...Thanks Pam C. for a great recommendation! ( )
  vcg610 | Mar 16, 2017 |
Charming, witty, humorous, touching, romantic, so many reasons for loving this book. Major Pettigrew (Ret.) lives in Edgecome St. Mary's, a small village where most everyone knows everyone. Many of them tolerate Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper, but the Major and she develop a friendship in spite of nosy women, snobby landowners, and especially his too-big-for-his-britches son, Roger. I enjoyed the vivid, warm descriptions of hunting lodges, gardens, and afternoon teas, and the annual village ball is not to be missed. Or perhaps it should have been, as it caused a major rift that took a long time to conquer. ( )
  geepee56 | Mar 13, 2017 |
Wonderful story-telling! I enjoyed the widow/widower interaction, life isn't over until it is. Along the lines of the Alexander McCall Smith English stories, but the characters are much more interesting. I especially enjoyed the unique phrases... "do all men steal and display the shiny jackdaw treasure of other people's ideas" ( )
  MM_Jones | Feb 28, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 383 (next | show all)
Simonson .. is having a great time with her first novel. She is unsparing in her willingness to send up her characters and their little village, and she is often downright funny – that intelligent kind of funny that catches readers by surprise and makes them re-read a sentence several times to figure out how the author managed to make them laugh out loud so unexpectedly.The book is almost always pitch-perfect in its demonstration of how ridiculous our small ignorances can be – and how magnificent we are when we rise above them.
 
This thoroughly charming novel wraps Old World sensibility around a story of multicultural conflict involving two widowed people who assume they're done with love. The result is a smart romantic comedy about decency and good manners in a world threatened by men's hair gel, herbal tea and latent racism..When depicted by the right storyteller, the thrill of falling in love is funnier and sweeter at 60 than at 16. The stakes are higher, after all, and the lovers have stored up decades of peculiarities and anxieties
 
As with the polished work of Alexander McCall Smith, there is never a dull moment but never a discordant note either. Still, this book feels fresh despite its conventional blueprint. Its main characters are especially well drawn, and Ms. Simonson makes them as admirable as they are entertaining. They are traditionally built, and that’s not just Mr. McCall Smith’s euphemism. It’s about intelligence, heart, dignity and backbone. “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” has them all.
 

» Add other authors (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Simonsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Altschuler, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tapia, SoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallis, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For John, Ian and Jamie
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Major Pettigrew was still upset about the phone call from his brother's wife and so he answered the doorbell without thinking.
Quotations
He finished his tea and rose from the table to go to his room. "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?"
"Careful, careful," he said, feeling a splash of scalding tea on his wrist. "Passion is all very well, but it wouldn't do to spill the tea."
Too few people today appreciate and pursue the delights of civilized culture for their own sake.
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Book description
Major Ernest Pettigrew, having retired to a quiet life in Edgecombe St. Mary, raises a few eyebrows in the small English village when he begins a relationship with widow Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper.
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Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until 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 will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?… (more)

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