Title: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Author: Helen Simonson
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
Paperback: 384 pages
In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s 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 brother’s 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?
Delightfully charming Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson tells the story of 68-year-old Major Pettigrew, a widower, as he encounters and develops a relationship with Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani, a widow herself. Simonson’s witty style of writing brings the subtle humor of these two characters to life as the book touches on many important issues including racial and social clashes. What is most intriguing about this novel is that it deals with multiple facets of life for the 68-year-old Major, including his family dynamics, the aforementioned racial and social issues, death and loss, love, as well as aging. Each character is well developed and quite realistic, I found the Major and Mrs. Ali to be particularly charming. Simonson must have enjoyed writing several jabs at English and American society into her novel, and she does so adeptly and for the most part, accurately. Although the storyline starts out slowly, good prose does not have to move at a mile-a-minute pace to be thoroughly enjoyed, but for those with less patience, the story does develop at a higher rate in the latter half. I truly enjoyed Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and would recommend it to all readers looking for a charming book to spend an afternoon with.
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.
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I received a complimentary copy of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.