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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Paperback – Large Print, Dec 1 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 586 pages
  • Publisher: Large Print Press; 1 edition (Dec 20 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594134448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594134449
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #63,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[A] beautiful little love story, which is told with skill and humor.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling . . . As with the polished work of Alexander McCall Smith, there is never a dull moment. . . . It’s all about intelligence, heart, dignity and backbone. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand has them all.”—The New York Times

“Delightful . . . Lots of books try to evoke Jane Austen . . . but Simonson nails the genteel British comedy of manners with elegant aplomb.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Thoroughly charming . . . With her crisp wit and gentle insight, Simonson . . . knows just what delicious disruption romance can introduce to a well-settled life.”—The Washington Post

“There’s more than a bit of Romeo and Juliet here . . . Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali are worthy of our respect, and it is a great pleasure to spend time with them.”—Los Angeles Times

“Marvelous . . . graceful, funny, perceptive, and satisfying.”—The Boston Globe
“A comforting and intelligent debut, a modern-day story of love that takes everyone—grown children, villagers, and the main participants—by surprise, as real love stories tend to do.”—Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge
“[Helen] Simonson invests her grown-up love story with . . . warmth and charm.”—USA Today
“A wise comedy . . . about the unexpected miracle of later-life love . . . The beauty of this engaging book is in the characters.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“With courting curmudgeons, wayward sons, religion, race, and real estate in a petty and picturesque English village, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is surprisingly, wonderfully romantic and fresh . . . the best first novel I’ve read in a long, long time.”—Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter

“Endlessly entertaining.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Playful yet affecting . . . If you miss the Jeeves novels of P. G. Wodehouse—and don’t mind having your emotional buttons pushed—Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is the book for you.”—Buffalo News
“Irresistibly delightful.”—Library Journal (starred review) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

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 and former travel advertising executive, she 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 first novel.

From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
This blow-by-blow account of Custer's last stand, alternating as it does between the perspective of Sitting Bull and Custer, is a strong candidate for "best popular account" and perhaps the "if you only read one book on this, read this one." The story aspect is very important to Philbrick and he unfolds the narrative as much like a drama as possible, getting into every conceivable detail and trying to tease out who was really responsible for what, and ultimately, why exactly did it all happen?

Philbrick humanizes both Sitting Bull and Custer in a commendable way, leaving us with a better sense of the flesh-and-blood behind the dubious legends that quickly came to stand in the public imagination. Perhaps what suffers most here is that the detailed analysis ultimately doesn't lend itself to a strong big picture understanding of what was happening. Its very likely that the ultimate reduction of the Sioux to confinement on reserves was not strongly impacted by this battle - the disappearance of the buffalo from the plains was the decisive factor. However, as Philbrick points out, the Sioux have not disappeared, and they still have a preserved sense of culture and identity, so to view them as a defeated people is actually rather near-sighted. The results of military encounters do not a defeated or victorious people make.

If you've not read Philbrick's other books, I would suggest reading Mayflower before this one, simply because its better. If you liked Mayflower, you'll very likely enjoy this book as well, since Philbrick employs a similar narrative method, albeit mostly confined to a shorter passage of time.
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