Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I read Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson for my office book club and enjoyed it so much! The plot itself may seem somewhat boring... A story about the residents of Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside, including Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired).

The unlikely hero, Major Pettigrew, is an incredibly lovable character from the very first page. He lives a quiet life and values all the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. I found Major Pettigrew to be incredibly endearing and I loved how his opinionated personality changed over the course of the novel.

His brother's death sparks a family feud over a set of expensive shotguns, and in the meantime he kindles a friendship with the Pakistani village shop keeper, Mrs. Jasmina Ali. Both of their spouses are deceased and their bond over a love of literature quickly grows into more. But the villiage "society" regards Mrs. Ali as a foreigner, and some go out of their way to make the relationship difficult for Mrs. Ali and the Major. But in the end Major Pettigrew discovers that "life [is], after all, more simple than he had ever imagined."

It's honestly difficult to explain why I liked this book so much. When I think back on it, the words "delightful" and "charming" come to mind. The characters are warm, funny and surprisingly real. Simonson pays close attention to detail in her descriptions... you can actually see the rolling green English countryside and taste a delicious cup of steaming hot tea. Maybe I just loved how the whole story and all the characters in it were so quintessentially English: "Passion is all very well," says the Major, "but it wouldn't do to spill the tea."


  1. This sounds like a great read!! Thanks for posting about it.


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