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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  75,338 ratings  ·  9,029 reviews
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 comp...more
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Random House (first published 2010)
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Lindsay Smith I have only just started this book, so I don't yet know the answers to your questions, but I will let you know. What I would say is that I'm reading…moreI have only just started this book, so I don't yet know the answers to your questions, but I will let you know. What I would say is that I'm reading the book after it was recommended to me by my Mum, who rabbited on for about 10 minutes about all the little details that were 'just so spot on'. Given that my grandfather and one uncle were both in the RAF and my other uncle is retired Army. Both aunts/uncles live in tiny English villages. My family also has close ties with India (which apparently is relevant). Apparently it was so good, even my Dad wants to read it - and he usually doesn't venture beyond thrillers.
Will keep you posted from my little English village :-)(less)
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Whoever read my Olive Kitteridge rant, probably knows that I am not much into reading books about old people. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, however, proves that any book about any subject matter or any type of characters can become a great experience if written well.

This novel is, essentially, a love story between a 68-year old retired Major Ernest Pettigrew and a 58-year old Pakistani shop keeper Mrs. Ali, brought together by their loneliness and love of literature. Yes, it doesn't sound very...more
Kate Quinn
If Masterpiece Theatre doesn't make this book into a movie starring Derek Jacobi, it will be a crime. There has not been so perfectly English a read in its deadpan humor in a very long time. Meet Major Pettigrew: widower, retired army officer, and pillar of the community in his small English town. He is set in his ways: tea with acquaintances, shooting parties with friends, reticence at all times. But the Major's life starts falling into chaos when he falls in love, and with a most unsuitable ca...more

This is the perfect book to read before bedtime. It is not an edge of your seat, can't put the book down, must turn the page to see what happens next type but the calm, touching, peaceful but poignant, close the book with a sigh kind. One to turn the lights off with a smile and a thought to slumber by.

Major Pettigrew is a 67 year old English widower who is trying to navigate the growing changes in the world, the dearth of discipline, the turning tide of etiquette, the lack of loyalties. H...more
When I hear "character-driven novel", I usually roll my eyes. I expect navel-gazing and lots of exploration of self, and it comes a bit too close to self-help for my tastes. But Simonson gets it absolutely right in Major Pettigrew.

Reading about a 68 year old, widowed, retired Major in a sleepy English village is not necessarily a draw for most readers, but there's an alchemy in the way the characters are written. Every single character in this book feels real and genuine. Some start off as stere...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I am utterly baffled as to why this book is popular. I expected sweet and charming and got dry and dull. The obsession with the pair of guns was overdone, and was what finally made me stop reading the book. The book is also bogged down with architectural detail and long, pointless descriptions of landscapes and interior decor.

The author's stereotyping of Americans is appalling and insulting. She's clearly playing to British readers with this attitude. "...the ignorance of the bad-mannered"?! As...more
Absolutely charming. The Major, the last true Gentleman on Earth, is my new best friend.

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Laura Stone Johnson
Major Ernest Pettigrew (Ret.) is a stickler for protocol; a man set in his routine in both action and philosophy, although he is not without the occasional witty retort. Major Pettigrew is a stout umbrella-toting man, a folding stool- carrying man, a man in control of his comfortable environment, until the day he answers his door to find the charming Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the local Pakistani shop owner, standing on his doorstep.

United by their love of Kipling and their lingering bereavement of their...more
Will Byrnes
Major Ernest Pettigrew is a decent sort, 68, retired military, widowed, and coping with the death of his younger brother, Bertie. He is a respected fixture in a rural community, member of the local golf course club, romantic target for one of the local ladies, and defender of traditional values. He is disappointed with his son, who has made a religion of career ambition, and considers the provincial notions of his neighbors less than cricket. But everything changes when he encounters Mrs. Ali, a...more
Tea Jovanović
Preporuka pred prve uskršnje praznike (prednost nas potomaka iz mešovitih brakova - sve praznike imamo duple, prim. ured.)... Sjajna knjiga, protkana finim sofisticiranim humorom... Lepo opisuje i kulturološke razlike u Britaniji (između krutog Britanca i udovice Pakistanke) a i jaz i nerazumevanje među generacijama (između oca i sina)... Ta knjiga mi se izdvojila u moru drugih koje sam te godine pročitala... 4 godine pokušavam da nagovorim nekog srpskog izdavača da je objavi, ali bez rezultata,...more
I read a very positive review and bought this book the day it was available. I really loved it...witty and dry, great fun. The narrative has a very british perspective. Great charcters.

The sensitive subject of the british memories of the colonial era in contrast to other cutures and people are really handled well. It both entertains and provokes thought which to me constitutes a perfect book. I just happen to watch "Slumdog Millionaire" the same weekend and thought the two contrasted well.

The au...more
One of the more frustrating books I have ever read. Some good writing, but with terrible characters and dodgy plotting--an infuriating combination.

The author can turn a nice phrase. But, the Major excepted, the characters are terrible. I know so little about Mrs. Ali, which is a shame; she seemed like she must have been a hell of a lady.

The son, Roger, is particularly weak; he's a complete cartoon. Ooh, a shallow young man, who condescends to and fails to understand his dad? Really? Let me guess...more
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a wonderful comedy of manners in which the multiculturalism, rudeness and self absorption of the present collide with the stiff upper lip, rigid social consciousness and self absorption of the past as portrayed by Major Pettigrew and his son. As the realities of 2010 Britain creep relentlessly into a village stuck in a time warp of Empire and English superiority, the character of the characters in each group is revealed. Some evolve, some are hopelessly stuck and...more
Clif Hostetler
This is the best novel I’ve read this year and may be destined to make my top ten list. The well designed plot is pulled together with carefully crafted writing. I’m embarrassed to be so enthusiastic about it because it is actually a romance novel which is a genre I usually steer clear of.

But this is a romance novel that contains human lessons, tensions and struggles almost too numerous to count. The most obvious battle is racial, religious and cultural prejudices. Then there’s the struggle bet...more
I thought this would be a light weight charming read, and it was charming. It just had deeper characterizations than I was expecting and some wonderful dry humor. Major Pettigrew and I share a sense of humor. Major Pettigrew in his sixties is charmed and attracted to Mrs. Ali, a widow and owner of the local convenience store. In his stuffy and status conscious world their friendship is frowned upon. The relationship is finally threatened by the world's most ghastly dinner dance at the golf club,...more
Major Pettigrew is a widower who lives a quiet, comfortable life in a cozy English village. He believes in proper manners, in following the rules, in fitting in. That all changes after the death of his brother and when he becomes friends with a local woman of color.

This book deals with love, racism, grief, being a parent, and finding meaning again when society says you should be happy to just sip tea and fade away in the shadows.

I adored the characters here, the sharp edges and wit, the vivid n...more
Though at times charming, this book mostly left me wondering what sort of a world the author imagines England to be. Her characterizations are far more disjointed than the plot, which has its flaws but at worst they’re jarring, not heinous. However, the characterizations don’t work not merely because there are only two or three bearable people in the entire novel (and this isn't a farcical satire), but mainly because they’re a convoluted mess of contexts. Major Pettigrew’s manners and standards...more
It is a truth universally acknowledged...that you cannot judge a book by its cover...or even dust jacket. Tis a pity, since this book possesses a stunning one adapted from a 1924 LIFE cover. I recommend framing it and placing what remains between the covers in the recycle bin.

British village life novels have long been a cherished enterprise, much adored by the public since the age of the divine Miss Austen and continuing with E. F. Benson, P. G. Woodhouse, Agatha Christie, and a variety of moder...more
Yeah, so I'm old and jaded and cynical. Books about fresh, dewy eyed youngsters meeting and falling instantly in love, make me roll my eyes and grimace. LUST at first sight...THAT I understand. But when a couple meets and they are instantly struck with the world-stopping, earth-shaking, (insert mushy love related cliche here), knowledge that they will be together until the end of time...oh, give me a break!

When Major Pettigrew meets Mrs. Ali, the earth does not move, or stop, for that matter. Sh...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Major Ernest Pettigrew is literally reeling around his house in shock on the morning his younger brother dies. A knock comes at his door and it is the lady from the village shop--Mrs. Ali. Mrs. Ali is there to collect money for the paper boy, but she takes one look at the Major and decides that someone needs to assist him. She helps him back inside, makes him a hot cuppa, and just listens as the Major begins to work through his grief. She only leaves when she is sure that he's going to be alrigh...more
What a great story! I loved it. It starts a bit slow, but really packs an enjoyable punch through to the ending. I really grew attached to the Major and this great cast of characters. Some laugh out loud moments...some very poignant moments and a very enjoyable love story. I love the blending of the cultures and the new and older generations. You got a feel for all sides of the story and it made for both sad and wonderful outcomes. This story surprised me many times. I thought I would end up dis...more
Every once in a great while a book comes along that reminds me why I love to read. I'm not big on giving out 5 stars for a book, but this novel deserves all of it's praise and more. I sometimes get so caught up in my frenzy of reading (so many books, so little time) and it takes a book like this one to slow me down and rekindle the pleasure of reading.

This is a slice-of-life book, which I'm not usually a big fan of, but what a huge exception we have going on here. Major Pettigrew is a retired wi...more
A sweet story about Major Pettigrew, proper Englishman, retired; and Mrs. Ali, Englishwoman of Pakistani descent, shopkeeper. They share a love of reading, tea and walking by the sea. Mrs. Ali is educated, sophisticated, beautiful and kind. The Major is fusty but good-hearted. The families of both, and the townspeople, are intolerant of the developing love between them. Family heirlooms come into it, as does religion, golf, knitting needles, and duck hunting. It does say some nice things about l...more
I am so in love with this novel! I went into it like some huge blind date, hearing so many wonderful things about it from critics and everyday readers alike, but not knowing if it would be a perfect fit for me. The story not only met my expectations, it far exceeded them; I knew after the first chapter we were a perfect match! :->

Simonson is a superb author. I almost felt I was reading a modern-day Jane Austen, so keen were her insights into society and the hearts and minds of her characters;...more
Dec 13, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sue, Chelsea
This is one of those books that gets an extra star for reading it at the right time. It hit the spot during my current case of the book blahs. The pace was slow enough to not overwhelm, but yet didn't bore. It had just enough romance to add interest. I liked the storyline which exposed how easily prejudices are accepted by society.

My only complaints would be that the twin guns issue might have been dwelt on too much, and one event at the end may have been more melodramatic than need be consideri...more
For several days, I was completely absorbed in this novel. It’s one of my favourite kinds of stories: a love story between older people. And it’s nearly perfect.

Major Pettigrew, the widowed protoganist whose point of view the third person narrator follows, is a 68 year old retired army officer living in an English village. He is moral, sometimes moralistic, upright, more mellow as an old man than he was as a young father, reticent yet passionate, compassionate yet conservative. He falls for Jasm...more
Olga Godim
This was a good book, a gentle literary fiction. The protagonist, Major Pettigrew, is a retired army major, living in a small English village, in the house built by his ancestors. Widowed several years ago, he lives quietly, in peace with his neighbors, until his younger brother dies in the beginning of the novel.
The funeral was set for Tuesday.
“It seemed good for most people,” Marjorie said on her second call. “Jemima has her evening class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I have a bridge tourna
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

If a Jane Austen novel collided with a Seinfeld episode, it would result in something along the lines of this charming novel, full of dry British wit and the over analyzing of life's daily offenses.

Major Pettigrew is a retired man that still very much values honor, politeness, and the proper way that one should do things. This novel shows him navigating recent changes in his life and town, while addressing differences generations and family members often have...more
This one keeps getting recommended to me by Amazon and Audible. I really didn't expect to win a copy through FirstReads.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was a slow start for me. It took ages to get through the first couple of chapters. Major Pettigrew is an old-school Brit. He served in the army out of a sense of duty. He lives in a cottage that's been in his family for generations. He is a widower with a son whose values he just can't understand. One day, the local shopkeeper comes to his door to c...more
You start MPLS with certain expectations -- quirky characters, English setting, unlikely but heartwarming romance, comedy of manners -- all the necessary ingredients for an enjoyable, if undemanding, summer read. And Helen Simonson certainly delivers the goods. About 50 pages in, you notice that MPLS is actually far more interesting than the mere 'comfort read' you were expecting. Although the author steers a little too close to stereotype for some of her minor characters, especially the less sy...more
This is a charming novel set in an English village. It's the story of Major Pettigrew, retired and a widower, who strikes up a friendship with a Pakistani woman who runs the local shop. The two share a love of books and ideas, and the Major falls in love. But his multicultural romance causes waves in the community and soon he is forced to make a decision.

There is much more going on in the book, including a family battle over heirloom rifles, a social-climbing son and a whole cast of townspeople,...more
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Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics with an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton, she is a former travel advertising executive who has lived in America for the last two decades. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she now lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, D.C. area. This is her...more
More about Helen Simonson...
Reader's Select Editions 2010 - The Geneva Deception, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, The First Rule, Hannah's Choice

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“Life does often get in the way of one's reading” 85 likes
“You are a wise man, Major, and I will consider your advice with great care--and humility." 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?”
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