Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

26 Feb

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Book CoverRating:  3 out of 5 stars

About the Book (taken from Borders.com)

Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside, is filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and contains a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of readers’ own families. Their interactions are both hilarious and heartbreaking.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?
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My Review

This book was another one of those I seemed to see everywhere.  My online book friends talk about it, it’s been on the Trade Paperback Bestseller list for what seems like forever, and it was this month’s selection for my in-person book club.  I was completely psyched to read it but much to my disappointment, once I got started, I found it to be a bit slow going.  I actually put it down for a week or so.   What I picked up instead was Anna Karenina which made me long for the ease of reading something written in this century so back I went to Major Pettigrew. 

Ultimately, I’m glad I finished the book.  It wasn’t something I tore through, but as I refine my literary tastes, I find that wanting to tear through a book isn’t always necessary for me to like it.  I’m becoming much more appreciative of a more slow-paced dramatic story, which is a pretty accurate description of this book. 

I loved, LOVED that this book was told from the perspective of someone in their twilight years.  The timing was perfect –  I’ve been facing the reality that I am starting to get ‘old’ (relatively) and this book was a source of comfort to me.  People might age on the outside, but they absolutely don’t age on the inside! 

I thought the character development was superb – the author really is very talented.  I wish I could have gotten into the heads of some of the other characters in his town.  I would have loved to hear their perspective of him.

Bottom Line:  This book is perfect if you are looking for something steady but enjoyable.  The plot unfolds slowly and at times you have to be a little patient , but you truly love Major Pettigrew and his life as a retired Englishman living in the countryside and falling in love.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson”

  1. Sherri February 28, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Karen! I don’t keep up much on the latest reads, so always I enjoy getting your blog updates. 🙂 This book sounds rather charming – I may just have to check it out. Thanks!

    • Karen March 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Thanks so much! What an honor to have you reading my blog! I would love to hear what you have to say about this book if you do read it.

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