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

by Helen Simonson

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4,1093661,226 (3.97)644
Member:nbermudez
Title:Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel
Authors:Helen Simonson
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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» See also 644 mentions

English (365)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (373)
Showing 1-5 of 365 (next | show all)
It's not that it was a terrible book--it was reasonably readable and enjoyable in parts. I liked Grace and her strength and sensibleness, and I liked the stolidity of the Major. Mrs. Ali was charming. The story was reasonably interesting and attempted to address things like the clash of civilizations, which is something I experience in my own life.

But...I couldn't get rid of the sense of disjointedness. I can't pinpoint where or why, but the work didn't feel coherent as a whole. The characters were flat and I didn't 'get' them--I never got a sense of them as rounded, real people. And the events were kind of interesting as sketches, but felt shallow, never truly deep.

Wouldn't tell anyone *not* to read it, as one could do much worse. It's a light feel-good read for the beach or vacation perhaps. ( )
  emanate28 | Apr 29, 2016 |
This was such a delight to read. Simonson is especially talented with her perceptive descriptions of the characters and their quirks, of their emotions, and of the atmosphere. An elderly retired and widowed major is bereaved again with the loss of his younger brother. He is comforted by the neighbourly yet quite proper attentions of the widow Pakistani shopkeeper, and their relationship develops.
It was quite strong in the first third. There were sharply observant descriptions of the behaviours and numerous small conflicts of life in a small English village, and some was snortingly funny. It weakened a bit in the middle, starting to lose its way a bit but recovered well enough. It was warm and smartly funny. This is the author's debut novel, at the elderly age (for a first time novelist) of 45. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
This novel about a retired Major and the village he lives in is quintessentially English in its manner. I really can't imaging it being set in any other country (though I'm sure plenty of places have racist bigots who look down on anyone "not really OUR sort of people". Mrs Ali was the only character I really liked and felt sympathy for - this sometimes made reading it a bit of a chore as the book is written from the Major's POV. I did get bogged down at about page 150 but after a couple of weeks reading something else I picked it up again and the second half of the book really picks up (The Major even grew on me). The Major's son was a massive source of irritation too - I really hated that character (not because he was badly written but because I know people like that and I just want to slap them!)This story covers several major societal issues relevant to any country: race, bigotry, class, keeping up with trends, ambition vs family, greed and family duty to name a few. It would make a great bookclub book - so much to discuss and many well described characters. ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
I loved the story, the setting, the characters and the writing. This is a wonderful read, full of wit and charm. Some of the attitudes seem a bit old-fashioned for even twenty-first century England - the story feels more like it could be set in the 1970s or 80s but this is a minor quibble. A greater one is the dramatic shift in tone towards the end of the book. It quite suddenly becomes violent and overtly nasty after having been very understated and gentle all the way through. I found this quite jarring though I presume it was very deliberate. Are writers encouraged to avoid a 'happy-ever-after' ending for all the main characters as being too unrealistic? It is a novel - we know it is fiction. It is the one place where it would be so good if everyone who deserved to be happy, could be! ( )
1 vote rosiezbanks | Apr 16, 2016 |
Ah! The most romantic book I've read in a long time. And so well written. I can just picture the Major in a movie! Still smiling about this one. ( )
1 vote sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 365 (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 (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Simonsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Altschuler, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tapia, SoniaTranslatorsecondary 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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