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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson Paperback – July 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: by Helen Simonson (July 12, 2009)
  • ASIN: B004H72LIG
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,313,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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 with an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton, she is a former travel advertising executive who 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

986 of 1,013 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is always cause for celebration when a debut author bursts on the scene with an original and whimsical novel that is bound to capture attention. And this novel -- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand -- has much to recommend it.

Major Pettigrew is a very proper and delightfully droll widower of 68 who resides in the quaint village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex, England. He is the father of Roger, a posturing and preening young man who has incorporated none of the values of his dad. And he is also the accidental suitor of the proprietress of the village mini-mart, Jasmina Ali, a 50-something Pakistani widow who shares his love of Kipling and his wry look at the world in which they both reside. The two of them -- the quintessential local and the attractive outsider -- must navigate the gossip and outright prejudice of their stilted society. Helen Simonson writes, "He (the Major) had always assumed gossip to be the malicious whispering of uncomfortable truths, not the fabrication of absurdities. Was a life of careful, impeccable behavior not enough in a world where inventions were passed around as facts?"

This is by no means "chick lit", nor is it hard-hitting politically correct narrative, couched in fiction. It is a charming English comedy of manners -- in places, a laugh-out-loud comedy. A scene, for example, where the atrocities of Pakistani Partition are reduced to a bad-taste dinner show or where the favored ducks of schoolchildren are chosen as prey for a duck hunt are satirical and spot-on.

Yet despite its gentle humor, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand touches on many of the big issues: the clash of culture and religions, the greed of unbridaled globalization, the tension between fathers and sons...and families in general.
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276 of 286 people found the following review helpful By Cilla VINE VOICE on January 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got this as an advanced reading copy from the Amazon Vine program, and didn't know anything about it except the brief synopsis from the Vine newsletter. I am fond of reading "gentle" novels that take the reader into the hearts and lives of people in a community, and this novel didn't disappoint me. It has a slow start, but builds up to the point where you can't put it down because you just have to know what happens next. It is a combination of romance, a comedy of manners, a statement on prejudice, a look at family and community relationships, and a reaffirmation that love is ageless. The hero, Major Pettigrew, is widower in his 60's who has become complacent about his quiet existence as a retired Army officer. He is shocked out of his routine by the sudden death of his only brother. He has known the heroine, Jasmina Ali, for quite some time as the wife and then widow of Pakistani shopkeeper in his community. As the Major and Jasmina become closer due to their shared griefs and their common interests, both of them are challenged to look at their own world views and to face the discrimination and shallowness of some of their friends and relatives. There is a nice chemistry between the hero and the heroine. When they become physically intimate, it is done in the "now dear reader, we will close the bedroom door" type of approach, which is fitting for the type of novel that it is. Although the novel isn't religious in tone, the characters and the style reminds me favorably of Jan Karon's Mitford series of novels. That is why I am hoping that the author has more novels about the little English community that is home to the Major and Jasmina. I want to know what happens next.Read more ›
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166 of 178 people found the following review helpful By P. B. Sharp TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"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.

The novel takes place in the little English village of Edgecombe St. Mary and the prejudices, and race and religious intolerances endemic in a small town are alive and well.

Major Pettigrew, a pukka sahib if there ever was one, is the endearing hero and he finds an unusual soul- mate in Jasmina Ali. The Major has a clipped grey mustache and twinkling blue eyes, and Mrs. Ali. who is Pakistani, has shiny black hair coiled into a bun and her dark brown eyes don't miss a thing. Seemingly yin and yang are these two- seemingly. Under the surface they discover a huge rapport. The Major and Mrs Ali are both widowed; the Major has an obnoxious son, Mrs. Ali has an obnoxious nephew. But it's their love of literature that really bonds them together as well as the fact they are both kind, caring individuals with fine senses of humor bubbling just beneath the surface.

The story is not sentimental or mawkish, it's sparkling and lively. True love will find a way but there are many thorns along this particular rocky path and the book builds up to a crescendo of a climax while you the reader are terrified something awful is going to happen to either the Major or Mrs. Ali.

To make yourself just feel good and indulge in a good laugh, grab this charming book! You'll love it, trust me!
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