Jen Padgett Bohle's Reviews > Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
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's review
Feb 03, 11

bookshelves: british-contemporary, preservation-of-old-ways
Read in February, 2011

2.5/5 (an extra half star because I liked Major Pettigrew's wit and charm so much).

This is described as a comedy of manners, so naturally I think Jane Austen /Restoration drama, but this isn't that, unless you count the multitudes of stock characters and a bit of mild social satire. Ok, so in all fairness, I apparently like heavier, slightly more serious and miserable works *stern face* and I have got to stop with these twee, sentimental, cozy books. I need more tea, chintz,and a Laura Ashley floral interior to really be the target audience of this novel.

There are too many caricatures and not enough actual characters. One gets the sense that the author had a strict outline of her characters' personalities and actions and just mechanically wrote them in without much animation to make them multi -dimensional. My favorite character and the protagonist, Major Pettigrew, also tends toward the cartoonish, but I like him and his old-fashioned sensibilities, chivalry, and integrity (event though he reads Kipling, "a rather unfashionable choice these days [...]" Yuck!) So, yeah, I will overlook some of the more problematic and one-dimensional aspects of his character because he's amusing and sardonic.

There's some serious Orientalism going on with the upper crust British characters, which Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali attempt to subvert, but ultimately I felt like the portrayals of some of the minor Pakistani characters did more to further "otherize" non-westernerers.

Ultimately, this is a wine spritzer of a read --- light, mostly feel-good, simple. A Rom com for moms (is that overdoing it a bit?)
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