Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

by Helen Simonson

Overview: In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonsonís wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brotherís 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 spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

Simone Paradis Hanson (09/20/16): This book. It is a joy. It is not your ordinary love story. Helen Simonson has created characters who are set in their ways by both age and culture. But love conquers all. The Major and Mrs. Ali are two of the most endearing people you will ever meet and I was rooting for them from the start. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes a love story that is not built on silliness, who loves character driven literature, and who has a good sense of humor.
Rating: *****

Elain Marlin (01/29/16): One of my all time favorites! I will reread this some day. Beautifully written.
Rating: *****

Gail Reid: Add me to the list of fans on this site for Major Pettigrew's story and his lovely romance with Mrs. Jasmina Ali. Is love ageless? How strong is family obligation? What does it mean to be a person on the outside? These questions and many other universal themes are explored in the context of a rustic English village with two middle-age people whose spouses have died. The story line may not be that original and several of the characters are one-dimensional but these shortcomings do not really detract from a charming and easy read.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton: I found Major Pettigrew's last stand to be a sweet love story with real life issues and less than perfectly happy endings.(which I prefer) The English country village setting added interest and tension to the story; I could see the same issues rising in small town USA. The author managed to take the "Romeo & Juliet" theme and give it a twist by making the couple from diverse backgrounds both widowed and older. I loved the Major's resistance to his child's continued efforts to make him feel "too old" and his realization, at the end of the day, about the value of relationships being more important than "things," such as a classic pair of matching guns, no matter what their value. While portraying the highly restrictive restraints of a Muslim family on women, the author made it clear that other cultures also have their expectations about appropriate behavior and liaisons, and those who continue to judge people by the color of their skin, their heritage or their religion, rather than looking at each person as an individual.
Rating: ****

Marilyn Baron: Just a comment on the two existing reviews of this book. The reviewers are right on target. I absolutely loved this book. My sister recommended it to me. I read and thoroughly enjoyed it and then passed it on to my other sister. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Rating: *****

Debbie Weiss: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a delightful love story between a Pakistani-born widow and a retired British major who is a widower. What I found particularly interesting was that the story is written from the male's point of view. Ernest Pettigrew is an honorable, endearing, yet opinionated British gentleman who is as sentimental and caring as any human can be. He blushes in the presence of Jasmina Ali as if he were still a young boy. He wants to protect and care for this woman in spite of the differences in their backgrounds and their upbringings.

We see complicated family relationships come into play: father and son, aunt and nephew, old-time zenophobic villagers and immigrants. The themes are universal and I was delighted with the way the book ended. A great read!
Rating: ****

Arlene Almas: Major Ernest Pettigrew, British army (retired), is a man of great integrity, a lover of literature, well liked and respected in the village where he has lived a great many years. He is also a widower with a slowly developing interest in Mrs. Ali, a widowed Pakistani woman who runs the village shop and, coincidentally enough, has a fascination for literature. The story touches on a number of serious themes: racism; the difficulties of the relationship between a father and his grown son; the obstacles faced by young people trying to define themselves while stranded between the cultures of their immigrant parents and that of the country they are living in; the clash between those who chase after material possessions and those whose values reflect the more worthy aspects of life. In spite of the gravity of these issues, the narrative has a certain light-hearted touch that kept me smiling even while concern for the Major, Mrs. Ali, and the other well-drawn characters kept me metaphorically on the edge of my seat. I believe a lot of our readers would enjoy this book. .
Rating: *****

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