Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson


Oh, oh, oh – what a delightful novel.

Major Pettigrew is a very conventional, retired widower now dealing with the loss of his younger brother Bertie. His uneasy relationship with his adult son, Roger, only serves to remind him how truly lonely he is in the world. While enduring the condolences of socialite community women, and trying to regain ownership of Bertie’s old gun that should rightfully go to him, he finds himself drawn into a wonderful friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali – the local Pakistani shopkeeper. They bond over a love of literature, propriety, and their family troubles and their love story is adorable and full of that sharp, British wit.

I admit that for myself, the story started a bit slow. It wasn’t long though until I was drawn in Pettigrew’s world – the Major is a very honorable, sensible man and it was just so refreshing to read about two level-headed people falling in love, despite the craziness going on around them. There were some truly irritating characters, but it was fun to see the Major’s sarcastic retorts, and Mrs. Ali snuck a few good comebacks in herself. Roger, his son, was probably the character I found most annoying. Actually this quote perfectly demonstrates the difference between Major Pettigrew and his son:

“Oh it’s simple pragmatism, Dad. It’s called the real world. If we refused to do business with the morally questionable, the deal volume would drop in half and the good guys like us would end up poor. Then where would we all be?”

“On a nice dry spit of land known as the moral high ground?” suggested the Major.

There were also several characters that started off annoying but gradually became much more likable, such as Abdul Wahid or Grace. It made me happy that there so many unique characters, and that some of them actually redeemed themselves before the story ended. It also just gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to see so many people becoming friends, even though so many of them would be considered past the age for that. We all just kind of assume that past the middle-aged years of our lives, we’re pretty much done with bonding and new relationships.

On a more serious note, it was quite thought-provoking to see the tensions between the British and the Pakistani characters. Honestly, it’s not really a relationship I’d ever thought about before, and I thought this book did a good job of reflecting the tensions still present, despite the social niceties and that the setting is the modern world.

Overall, this was a perfectly quaint little book. I loved the story, the characters, the dialogue – I honestly can’t say a bad thing about it.

Sarah Says: 5 stars

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  1. >I really enjoyed this book too. I love the quote you included about the moral highground. It sort of sums up the Major's character. Did you get this from the library or buy it? In reference to your comment on my blog. I wish I could use the library but I every time I do I end up with about $60 in overdue fees!


  2. >I so enjoyed watching the Major slowly grow and change. I wasn't completely sold on the ending but it didn't change my opinion about this one.


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