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  • Apr 14, 2011
In the tradition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, or the film Last Chance Harvey, Helen Simonson tells the story of Major (ret.) Ernest Pettigrew, a fine old English gentleman doing his best not to fade away since his wife died 6 years ago. He loves his home and village, and regrets the decline of old traditions. As the novel opens, he is struggling to come to terms with the death of his brother, and the local shop keeper, a Pakistani widow named Mrs. Ali, offers him some assistance and understanding. Mrs. Ali was born in England, but latent racism still colors her relationships in town. She and the Major discover that they share many interests, and when he finds himself very attracted to her, he's not certain at all that he should pursue anything more than friendship, although he himself has no problems with her origins. Major Pettigrew's shallow son is a more "modern" Brit, and the attitudes and lifestyles of father and son create intergenerational friction. Mrs. Ali's nephew, who is to inherit the shop when she decides to step down, could not be more faithful to traditional Muslim customs and mores. What develops is a humorous yet dignified love story, sincere and full of heart, and peppered liberally with beautifully drawn characters. There are the threadbare local lord, who leases most of his stately home to a school, and the vapid society matrons who organize the annual themed and costumed dance at the golf club. Then there are Mrs. Ali's fundamentalist relatives, the Major's abrasive sister in law, and two brash Americans. For the Major, “two Americans in as many weeks" was something “approaching a nasty epidemic.” The action encompasses such hot-button issues as duck hunting, the British Empire, and, of course, race relations. The upshot is that the Major finds himself shaken out of his placid routines and patterns of thinking, to face the unpleasant fact that life in Edgecombe St. Mary is not always lived on the moral high ground, in spite of its idyllic setting. With her sharp, dry wit, Author Simonson, is as adept at writing social satire as she is at romance. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (which he makes at the club dance) is fresh, polished, endearing, and very entertaining. Let's hope she'll be publishing again, and soon.

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April 15, 2011
I remember seeing the film and liking it. I might check out the book one of these days. Excellent review!
April 15, 2011
I didn't know it was a movie. Thanks, Adrianna!
April 18, 2011
I actually mixed this up with another book to film that I saw-- my bad! LOL! However, I did some research and found out that it's in the works (being released in 2012). Here's a url for some information on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1742328/
April 18, 2011
April 19, 2011
Hopefully it's good!
More Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: ... reviews
review by . April 14, 2010
Pettigrew's Last Stand   by Helen Simonson   368 pages   Random House, 2010      To explan the title of this review, Major Pettigrew is proud, and a lot of the people around him are prejudiced. This book because gave me a vague Jane Austen vibe-- not Austenish in the sense that the plot reminded me of her books, but the feel of it is very Jane-like. It's set mostly in a small English village, and it deals with marriage, family, race, class, manners, …
review by . February 13, 2011
This book has been on my wishlist for months, and I finally got a paperback copy as a Christmas gift, and then of course I was reluctant to start the book because I was afraid it woudn't live up to the build-up. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded as this gem of a book more than lived up to the hype.    This beautiful story about finding love a second time around amid the complications of grown children, family businesses, and busybody neighbors also explores themes of racism, …
review by . July 30, 2010
My new favorite book
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 honorable 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 neighbors' smiles.      I love this book. …
review by . July 27, 2010
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is an easy book to underestimate. On the surface it's a gentle love story between the hopelessly conventional aging widower Major Pettigrew and the only slightly less conventional Pakistani widow Jasmina Ali. Major Pettigrew gets to know Mrs. Ali after his brother dies, and he finds that this lady, who tends the village shop, is the one person thoughtful enough to care about his feelings. That Major Pettigrew should make such a friendship is surprising, most of all to …
review by . March 30, 2010
Major Ernest Pettigrew (ret), an old-fashioned, stiff-upper-lip kind of Englishman, with a wry, sometimes caustic wit, comes up against mortality when his younger brother, Bertie, dies suddenly of a heart attack. Dazed by the news, he answers the door in his dead wife's housecoat (it's housecleaning day) to the proprietor of the village store, Mrs. Jasmina Ali.    Half-faint with embarrassment, he allows himself to be restored with a cup of tea by Mrs. Ali, a widow of Pakistani …
review by . January 29, 2010
"Last Stand" is a wondrous novel- a debut by author Simonson written with extraordinary insight and with vivid crackling descriptions so apt you'll find yourself reading slowly so you won't miss any of them. Wry and witty, the book is frequently hilarious and I often laughed so hard the tears were running down my face. The ending of this love story will leave you with a feeling of contentment but most of all the book is a paean to the human spirit that will warm the shackles of your heart.    Th …
About the reviewer
Linda ()
Ranked #54
After 21 years as a school psychologist, I now work part-time at two local historical museums, giving tours and teaching special programs. This leaves me more time to enjoy my little grandchildren, and … more
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010: In her witty and wise debut novel, newcomer Helen Simonson introduces the unforgettable character of the widower Major Ernest Pettigrew.  The Major epitomizes the Englishman with the "stiff upper lip," who clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his yuppie son, Roger. The story centers around Pettigrew's fight to keep his greedy relatives (including his son) from selling a valuable family heirloom--a pair of hunting rifles that symbolizes much of what he stands for, or at least what he thinks he does. The embattled hero discovers an unexpected ally and source of consolation in his neighbor, the Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali. On the surface, Pettigrew and Ali's backgrounds and life experiences couldn't be more different, but they discover that they have the most important things in common. This wry, yet optimistic comedy of manners with a romantic twist will appeal to grown-up readers of both sexes. Kudos to Helen Simonson, who distinguishes herself withMajor Pettigrew's Last Standas a writer with the narrative range, stylistic chops, and poise of a veteran.--Lauren Nemroff
--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10: 9780812981223
ISBN-13: 978-0812981223
Author: Helen Simonson
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
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