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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  130,328 ratings  ·  12,897 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, 359 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Random House (first published 2010)
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Sherri Robinson I have found that many career military men are very dependent on their wives to negotiate life as a civilian. Their bafflement of navigating daily lif…moreI have found that many career military men are very dependent on their wives to negotiate life as a civilian. Their bafflement of navigating daily life can make them appear older when out of the routine. I thing small towns are universal because the people stay in them generation after generation. Staying means holding to the past and not even thinking there are different ways of doing things and being uncomfortable with changes. We've done it this way for decades, what is wrong with that?(less)
Elizabeth It is my cozy book club selection. The themes are definitely adult, and not for young children. There is talk about an after-the-fact abortion, talk o…moreIt is my cozy book club selection. The themes are definitely adult, and not for young children. There is talk about an after-the-fact abortion, talk of suicide, an unmarried pregnant woman is one of the characters, and there is sex that occurs behind closed doors (like they did in 1950s movies). Nothing is what I'd call graphic. I'd label it Age 14+. It's the best book that I read all year. I'd buy it in hardcover at this point. I have the large print paperback, which I highly recommend because the print is quite small in the regular edition.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  130,328 ratings  ·  12,897 reviews


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Kate Quinn
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Tatiana
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Will Byrnes
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jaline
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2018-completed
If you are looking for something to read that is delightful, charming, with many layers of depth, this is a book you will love. Although it takes place in England, this novel is not specifically about the geography of the land or the people of that geography. It is much more universal than that.

It is a story about romance, but it isn’t a romance novel. It is a story about family, but it isn’t a family saga. It is a story that deals with religion, politics, race relations and other sensitive topi
...more
Annet
I say.... old chap... What a wonderful book. Delicious, full of humor, wit, it's colorful, delicate, wise.... cute, a big five star, very special!
Highly recommended! I'll be looking for more work of this author.
TJ
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5.0

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
Margitte
"I don't believe the greatest views in the world are great because they are vast or exotic," she(Jamina) said. "I think their power comes from the knowledge that they do not change. You look at them and you know they have been the same for a thousand years."

Major Ernest Pettigrew,Royal Sussex, retired, is an old curmudgeon of the traditional order. As prescribed by his military past, everything should be ordered, strictly predictable and, well, staunchly traditional, as honor and duty and his f
...more
Claudia
May 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Jeanette (Again)
Feb 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Grace
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Hayes
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely charming. The Major, the last true Gentleman on Earth, is my new best friend.


Read and Release at BookCrossing.com...
...more
THE
May 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Marsha
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, _fiction, novel
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
Ingrid
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet love story in a very English countryside.
Joy D
This book is filled with dry humor, social satire, and a message of acceptance. Major Pettigrew is a 68- year-old widower. When his brother dies suddenly, he is comforted by Mrs. Ali, a widow, and they become friends. Their friendship blossoms, then is almost derailed by an episode of cultural appropriation and prejudice. Through interactions with friends and family in this small English village, the author sheds light on intolerance in its many forms, such as race, class, sex, age, religion, an ...more
Camie
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This New York Times bestseller is Helen Simonson's debut novel which I sought out after reading her second book , The Summer Before The War.
Taking place in a small pastoral town in the English countryside, this book features the unlikely " golden years" romance of Major Pettigrew a staunch believer in retaining the decorum of a proper Englishman and Mrs. Ali a beautiful and exotic widowed shopkeeper from Pakistan. It's admirable that they yearn to follow their hearts despite the adversity shown
...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
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
Laura
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Cathrine ☯️
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.75★

"I would like you to be happy Ernest," she said. "We all deserve that."

A heart warming story about people figuring out how, and then deciding to have, a meaningful and fulfilling life by letting go of preconceived notions, prejudices, and plans. If you read and enjoyed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, or A Man Called Ove, I think you will like this one also.
...more
Melki
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Carol
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it


Is it enough to tell you Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Is delightful? It was like seeing a garden of the most fragrant, beautiful flowers, with one dandelion, the only one that could be picked. This audiobook turned out to be the beauty.

It is the story of two persons with completely different backgrounds willing to find common ground.
The Major (Earnest, aptly named) – Retired British Army, military attitude, and strong values, almost stuffy with an air of ostentation.
Mrs. Ali (Jasmina) – A Pak
...more
Denise
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Karina
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't a terrible read... I kept at it bc Major Pettigrew, the main character, was witty and funny at times. It was a tad slow so I did skim a lot. The story is basically about a 60-ish year old, white, British man making friends and seeing his little bubble of a town differently after the death of his brother and slowly falling in love with a Pakistani woman, which is scandalous in his little countryside. Wasn't my favorite book on my current list...
Fred Shaw
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Major Pettigrew, a retired British Army officer, is a man who is used to being in control of his routine and social life. What little there is. He is a widower of 5 years and has recently buried his brother Bertie. He has a son who is mostly interested in himself and often refers to his 68 year old father as "elderly". The Major is also lonely. He has his Golf Club where he plays with a few close friends. His other activities include shooting events where he uses 1 of a matched pair of Churchill ...more
Lisa
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
I really loved this book and I have a wistful smile on my face just thinking about it.

A lot of it is sentimentality as it is a very English book and the Major reminds me somewhat of my Dad...his values and his thinking and his jokes! And the village he lives in is very similar to this one.

This was quietly hilarious - the Major's dry sense of humour and the sometimes ridiculous situations he gets himself into purely down to social niceties and perceived face-saving is very funny.

A lot of interest
...more
Shelli
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Zoe
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A charming, witty story about life, love, community, and finding happiness at any age.
Wendy
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4000-books, may-17
This novel was well-liked at book club and led to a very interesting discussion.
Debbie
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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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 almost three decades. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she is married with two sons. Her debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, was a NY ...more

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