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

by Helen Simonson

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3,7093281,411 (3.98)597
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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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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English (324)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All languages (331)
Showing 1-5 of 324 (next | show all)
Major Pettigrew is a sixty-eight year old widower living in the quiet village of Edgecombe St. Mary near the south coast of England. When Mrs Ali, the widowed owner of the local corner shop, knocks on his door one day to collect his payment for his newspaper deliveries, she encounters a shaken major who has just had the news of his brother Bertie's sudden death. From this unpromising beginning they discover that they have more in common that they had ever realised, both sharing a love of books. But the Major's friends, and Mrs Ali's family, do not approve, and the course of true love, as ever, does not run smooth. And there is also single-parent Amina and her young son George's problems to share, as well as those of Mrs Ali's nephew Abdul Wahid...

I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand the story of the sixty-eight year old widower Major Pettigrew's growing friendship for Mrs Ali, the slightly younger widow of Pakistani origin who runs the local shop, is a sweet and touching one. On the other hand ... well the first thing that I did on finishing the book was look up exactly how long the author had been living in the US. Because the main problem for me was that despite the book being supposedly set in twenty-first century Britain, the social attitudes and concerns of the inhabitants of the village of Edgecombe St. Mary are firmly those of a previous generation, people who would be in their eighties or nineties now, not in their fifties or sixties. If you took out any reference to mobile phones and the internet, I'd have set the book in the 1970's, no later. A real-life Edgecombe St. Mary today would be worrying about the influx of Romanian farm workers and Polish plumbers, not one shop run by an Asian family. As the son of an unmarried mother George is supposedly ostracised (as he says 'If you have a Mum and not a Dad, they don't play with you') because he comes from a single parent family. But this seems far fetched in the extreme when over a quarter of children in the UK live in single parent families and nearly half are born outside marriage. And I can't see rice being deemed too exotic to serve for the golf club dinner in a country where chicken tikka masala is supposed to be a national dish.

This could have been a much better book in my opinion if the author had just got the background right. I've noticed some reviewers commenting on various 'Americanisms' creeping into the text. I didn't notice too many, but there was one glaring one: Major Pettigrew's son Roger attempts to secure the rental of a cottage by waving a 'cashier's check' in the face of its owner. We don't actually have cashier's checks (and if we did they'd be spelt cheques anyway): we have banker's drafts. Nitpicking I know, but in a novel that trades on its Englishness I think you ought to get the details right. ( )
  SandDune | Oct 3, 2014 |
A delightfully charming read, with a few intriguing twists. I enjoyed every minute I spent with the Major, and found myself quite invested in outcome of the inhabitants of his village. Once finished, I was wanting to read more from this author, but alas, this seems to be the only thing out there. Will definitely be sharing this one with Book Club!
  Rigfield | Sep 27, 2014 |
Major Pettigrew's character is typical of a British ex military person written about many many times since the Victorian days. and Mrs Ali's character lacked realistic traits that round up a personality such as we got no knowledge or depth of her thoughts , her likes and dislikes, flaws in her personality as if she was a character out of a fairy tale. I being a Pakistani immigrant found her not genuine and true to life. could not keep myself engrossed in other incidents in ;the book either the Mughal era theme party or the village woes.
t I loved the ending though because the values and principles that the characters held throughout the book they showed practically in the end and did not give in to social pressure of what is acceptable in life but which is fake and pretense.it is enjoyable as a love story.
marriage of a Muslim woman with a non Muslim man is not as easy as it is shown here with the attendance of such devout Muslims as the nephew and the asst Imam .the groom has to convert to Islam inorder to marry a Muslim woman. ( )
  sidiki | Sep 17, 2014 |
This book is about Major Pettigrew, who is a retired Major from the British Army, and the small English town that he resides in. The book delves into his love life and his relationship with his adult son. I have to admit that I usually steer clear of books/movies about older people. It sounds terrible, but I usually get pretty turned off by the themes of death, nostalgia, loneliness, that often go along with the topic. But Simonson does a great job of creating this character and dealing with topics that go along with aging without getting overly sentimental or dark. I LOVE Major Pettigrew. He has a fantastic sarcasm and I loved reading his thoughts. My favorite relationship in the book was between Major Pettigrew and his adult son, Roger. It was so amusing to read about the relationship of father and son after they are both adults from the parent's perspective. I also thought alot about how this female author was able to create such an in-depth older male character. I wonder if there was a specific person that she based him on. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 17, 2014 |
This was a charming, but also absorbing book. The story starts off very gently, but you find yourself caught up in the several conflicts that are brewing. When I saw that the author is from New York City, I wondered how she could have such insight into the intricacies of life in a small English village, but she is an Englishwoman born and bred. I found the book to be absolutely delightful! ( )
  darcy36 | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 324 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Simonsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Altschuler, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallis, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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