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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down...
Helen Simonson's first novel, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand", is so well written that I could barely put it away last night to go to sleep. I wanted to find out what happens. Of course, we all know how the book will end, as with any comedy of manners, but the fun part is how the author gets us there. And Simonson gets us there quite nicely.

Major Ernest...
Published on May 4 2010 by Jill Meyer

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charming, but twee
I was all ready to give this book four stars, based on the charm factor, as well as the clever language and dialogue, however, in the end I am forced to drop down to three stars because I fear the entire thing is entirely too twee (to coin the British term).

Ms. Simonson was raised in the part of England in which this book is set -- the southern part -- but has...
Published 21 months ago by Lauren B. Davis


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down..., May 4 2010
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
Helen Simonson's first novel, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand", is so well written that I could barely put it away last night to go to sleep. I wanted to find out what happens. Of course, we all know how the book will end, as with any comedy of manners, but the fun part is how the author gets us there. And Simonson gets us there quite nicely.

Major Ernest Pettigrew, a widower at age 68 with one grown son, lives in the quintessential country English village, set on the sea, south of London. He has lived there since leaving the British Army, raising his son with his late wife, Nancy, and enjoying his life as a retired military man. He golfs and engages in other local activities and interacts with his fellow, English, villagers. He's lonely and without the resources to know exactly why or what he should do to help ease the loneliness. He falls into first friendship, later love, with a local widow of Pakistani origin. Actually, Mrs Ali was born in Cambridge but is part of a large English/Pakistani family which stretches from London to Lahore. Their "friendship" stirs up feelings among his fellow villagers who don't know what to make of the blossoming relationship. The inter-racial and inter-religious relationship of the two is disconcerting to both the English and Pakistanis who view it. Ill feelings among the villagers begin to show, while the Major and Mrs Ali are not accepted on the Pakistani side, either.

Simonson is an excellent character writer. There's not a stereotype among her characters, though, in a lesser writer's hand, there probably would be. Her minor characters are as well-drawn as her major ones. All are shown with the nuances that make people seem "real". There are a few silly plot points, but not ridiculously so. Everything comes together in the end, as a good "comedy of manners" should.

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Cathleen Schine's new book, "The Three Weismanns of Westport". I gave it four out of five stars because I felt that, somehow, it was a "forced story". Schine, setting out to mimic Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility", needed to make her plot and characters mirror those of Austen's. Which sort of put her in a bind. Simonson, here in "Major Pettigrew" does not give rise to the same expectations that Schine unfortunately did. HER "comedy of manners" is her own creation, not mimicking anyone else's writing.

"Pettigrew" is an amazing study of the people and the times.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, April 27 2010
By 
Barbara J. Scott "book enthusiast" (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is an absolutely delightful story. Gentle humour combined with a charming love story make for a compelling read. The British class system is described in a matter of fact style, just all a part of village life at the time. I loved the strength both main characters showed, with all the frustrations of family relationships coming to the fore over the length of the book. I laughed out loud at some of the descriptions, particularly that of the upwardly mobile son trying to parent his father (as so many young adults of that age are inclined to do) while the father resists with all his might. All in all, one of the better books I have read in a long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `She said that if I maintained my aversion to change I risked being reincarnated as a granite post.', Aug. 19 2010
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) is a widower leading a quiet, ordered life in the small English rural village of Edgecombe St Mary. News of his brother Bertie's unexpected death unsettles him, and when his doorbell rings, he answers it wearing his crimson clematis-covered housecoat. His caller, Mrs Ali from the village shop has called to collect the newspaper money. And thus begins a love story. No, it's not really love at first sight, although it seems that the Major's current experience of grief has altered his perception of Mrs Ali and perhaps he is `seeing' her for the first time.

Mrs Ali, though, is not really part of the Major's neatly ordered world. For a start, she is of Pakistani heritage and even though they share a love of literature, and have both experienced losing their spouses, any relationship is frowned on by family and friends.

While the developing relationship between Major Pettigrew and Mrs Ali is the major focus of the novel, there is plenty of action in the village of Edgecombe St Mary as duck shooting, development and the golf club's costume party vie for attention. Add the Major's obnoxious son, Roger, and various members of Mrs Ali's extended family into the mix and it's difficult to see how the Major and Mrs Ali will ever be able to overcome the obstacles before them.

I enjoyed this novel. Some aspects were hilariously funny; others were quite a sad reminder of the barriers posed by ignorance and pretension.

`The world is full of small ignorances.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN UNEXPECTED LATER-LIFE LOVE!, Jan. 20 2012
By 
Janet Babins ""JayB"" (Montreal, Quebec, CANADA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
Major Pettigrew is a sixty-eight year old retired Englishman. He is widowed and lives in Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside. He is the father of a son named Roger, a narcissistic and foolish man and his American girlfriend, Sandy. Major Pettigrew lives a quiet life. He sets high standards for himself, home, duty and is very well respected by all who know him. He also enjoys a properly brewed cup of tea.

Major Pettigrew learns that his dear brother Bertie has died and he is shocked by the unexpected bad news. The doorbell rings and Mrs. Ali, the shopkeeper in the village, has come to collect the newspaper money. It is usually under the mat, but because he is so upset, he simply forgot about it. The Major explains that he has lost his brother. While searching for the money in his pocket, he becomes dizzy and weak. Mrs. Ali holds him up and leads the Major to a chair. She offers to make him a cup of tea and he readily accepts. They begin to talk about their lives and thus, a friendship begins.

Mrs. Jasmina Ali is fifty-eight years old, of Pakistani heritage and has also lost her spouse.

With time, a relationship grows. The Major and Mrs. Ali, with their different backgrounds, find that they have a lot in common. Both have lost their spouses. They are lonely. He has an obnoxious son. She has an obnoxious nephew. Both share an interest in literature AND they enjoy each others company.

Mrs. Ali is frowned upon by the village people, because she is considered to be a foreigner. She is also not in the same social class as the Major.
The Pakistanis are against this relationship as well. But Mrs. Ali declares, "I will rule my own life, thank you."

Can this relationship with all the gossip, prejudice and intolerance from family and villagers last?

Helen Simonson has written a delightful old-fashioned love story. It touches upon some serious issues like race, religion, intolerance and ignorance. The story teaches us to make an effort to treat our elders with respect and to be tolerant of people's differences.

I enjoyed this novel and can highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make Room on Your Bookshelf, Aug. 8 2011
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
A lovely book. The author draws the characters together nicely. I did not find the story to be too predictable. One of those books that you wish would never end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming - a wonderful read, Jan. 20 2011
By 
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
Everything wonderful has been written about this book in the previous reviews so I will not repeat the story. Let me just say that the English was wonderful, the satire was fun, the characters so hideously gorgeously English, the romance and strength of the characters was lovely. :I feel I know all of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite book, July 30 2010
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
At 68, Major Ernest Pettigrew is a respected leader in the tiny English village of Edgecombe St. Mary. He's an old-school gentleman, a loyal and honourable man among men, but also a lonely widower. His brother's death brings about a new friendship for the Major in the person of Mrs. Ali, the quiet and dignified Pakistani lady who runs the local shop. As they grow closer, however, they discover the shocking bigotry behind their neighbours' smiles.

I love this book. I love the Major, with his impeccable manners, his wisdom, and openness. I love Mrs. Ali, too; I could hear her gentle voice, see her friendly smile, and feel her quiet pride. The village is full of busy-bodies and snobs, including the Major's hilariously arrogant son and his pushy American girlfriend. Each person in the story is utterly believable and recognizable and the village itself is a real character, quaintly picturesque and ideal in many ways.

This is an absolutely charming story of people "of a certain age" who decide to break out of their safe, boring lives to find friendship and love. When I read the last sentence, I shed a tear and smiled and was ready to read a sequel or see this made into a movie. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Treat, Aug. 6 2011
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
Personally, this was a real treat, and difficult to put down. I found it very refreshing and very well written. I loved the descriptive detail and the pace. The characters were well developed, and there weren't so many (as in some books) -so I did not have to make a list or chart in order to keep track of them. I enjoyed the refreshing, wholesome plot as well as the absence of gratuitous, overboard sexual detail -a rare find these days.
I'll be watching for Helen's next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adorable book!, April 28 2011
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
Set in an English village featuring a curmudgeonly old brit and his unlikely friendship with a widowed shopkeeper, this is an adorable novel. It explores the bounds of friendship, family, community and love. Highly recommended as a light and easy read, and not in the vein of some "chick lit."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming novel, March 23 2011
By 
Sandra Gulland (My husband and I live half the year in Killaloe, Ontario, Canada, the other half in central Mexico.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a delightful novel, heart-warming and often funny. Simonson's writing reminded me, at times, of Jane Austen. The crabby Major is a wonderful character. As well, there are thought-provoking issues at play, making it excellent for a book club discussion.
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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson (Paperback - Nov. 30 2010)
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