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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel Paperback – November 30, 2010
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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 with Major Pettigrew's Last Stand as a writer with the narrative range, stylistic chops, and poise of a veteran. --Lauren Nemroff
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
If only Simonson had stopped at Chapter 21 it would have been perfect. I'll avoid spoilers here, but she chose to keep going for three more chapters to bring back an unsympathetic half-baked character and a madcap ending. Despite this, the book is a real triumph of the human spirit.
Although it has a slow start, you soon learn to care about the Major and his life. He sounds like a colorful character, who , at a later age in life, finds that he may have been lacking in certain areas of his life previously. Or maybe better put, he hasn't stood up in certain situations before, but finally learns to voice his opinion and realizes what is most important in his life.
I like books like this , as they teach you, no matter how old you get , that it's never too late to learn something new or improve your life.
The action is occasionally silly but makes for numerous good guffaws and holds ones attention through the shenanigans. I was sad this book ended and I'd snap up another volume about the Major in a heartbeat!