19 July 2010

Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) of Edgecombe St. Mary is the epitome of decorum. He's a member of the golf club, is on speaking terms with the local Lord Dagenham, and keeps his late wife's garden neat and tidy.

The widowed Mrs. Ali Jasmania Ali, owner of the village shop, has a sharp mind and kind heart. Although she was born in England, most of the villagers have a hard time seeing past her Pakistani background.

The two are unexpectedly brought together the day the major's brother dies. Will their families and friends understand their surprising and blossoming friendship?

The major of Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is comfortable in his world of familiar routine. His social-climbing son is a thorn in his side, but Roger is safely tucked away in London, out of sight and mostly out of mind. Mrs. Ali feels fortunate to have inherited her husband's business but is resentful of her in-laws' plans that Abdul Wahid, her nephew, be trained to take charge of the shop. When their lives collide and overlap, the major and Mrs. Ali rediscover their inner spunkiness and embrace a bit of selfishness.

Simonson's novel is an utterly charming look at village life, second chances, British snobbery, Anglophile Americans, religion, family pressures, secret jealousies, ageism, and most of all unlooked-for middle-age love.

Although I received an ARC of the novel, I chose to listen to the unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio), read by Peter Altschuler, whose British and Pakistani accents for both men and women were near perfect. His American accents seemed slightly forced, but that may have been a conscious decision, strengthening the contrasts among the cultures. Altschuler did a particularly good job conveying the wide range of emotions and levels of humor found in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand at Powell's
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand at Book Depository
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Published by Random House, 2010
ISBN-13: 9781400068937
Challenges: 100+
YTD: 65
Source: Review and borrowed copy (see review policy)
Rating: A-
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Marg 7/19/10, 7:53 AM  

I have heard such good things about this book. I own it, but haven't read it yet.

Kaye 7/19/10, 7:57 AM  

This one has been on my "wishlist" forever it seems. Sounds like the audiobook was perfect for you. Glad you enjoyed it. Have a great week and happy reading!

Anonymous,  7/19/10, 7:59 AM  

Like Marg, I have heard great things about this book. I'm glad you enjoyed it, because it adds another blogger who recommends this to the list. I guess I should listen to what everyone is saying and read this as soon as possible.

Anonymous,  7/19/10, 8:13 AM  

Oh good, another rec for the audiobook. I'm looking for it. Nice review.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/19/10, 8:35 AM  

I'll read this one day - whether print or audio, I don't know. I love the way you sum it up: "utterly charming"

JoAnn 7/19/10, 9:33 AM  

This is one I'll read rather than listen to. I bought it for my mother (Mother's Day gift). She loved it and sent it back for me to read!

serendipity_viv 7/19/10, 2:19 PM  

I am glad to hear this one is good.I keep going to pick it up in the shops,but wasn't sure how good it would be.

TexasRed 7/19/10, 2:34 PM  

This is the first I've heard of this book. Thanks!

Sandy Nawrot 7/19/10, 3:11 PM  

I've got this audio waiting for me back at home. I know I am going to love it. It seems this type of book fits well with my state of mind lately.

Andi 7/19/10, 3:31 PM  

I've read nothing but good reviews of this one, and cover snob that I am, I do love the look.

bermudaonion 7/19/10, 6:43 PM  

The owner of my local indie handsells this book, so I figured it was good. Great review!

Margot 7/19/10, 8:39 PM  

I've been wanting to read this one for some time now. However, the audio seems like a good way to go. Thanks for suggesting it.

Suzanne 7/19/10, 9:22 PM  

I loved this book. I'm glad you liked it as well.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 7/19/10, 10:59 PM  

I have no idea why I passed on this when I first heard about it. I think I must have just looked at the cover because in reading your review, I think I would probably love it. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to read it.

Amused 7/20/10, 12:07 AM  

Oh I so want to read this but know I am intrigued to check out the audiobook!

Beth Hoffman 7/20/10, 9:41 AM  

I enjoyed this book too!

Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog 7/20/10, 9:55 AM  

I also have a galley of this one (that's been sitting on the shelves forever), and I'm so glad you mentioned the audiobook....the idea of audio for this story really appeals to me. Glad you enjoyed it!

Dorte H 7/20/10, 2:35 PM  

This one sounds absolutely delicious.

Eva 7/21/10, 3:23 AM  

Hmm...I might give the audio version of this a try. That being said, one of my pet peeves is British narrators who do awful American accents (the Agatha Christie's I've listened to seem to be the worst offenders). So would I be driven insane?

Michele 7/21/10, 11:57 AM  

I've been wanting to read this, so I'm glad you recommended the audio, which hadn't occurred to me. I like your synopsis, since you captured exactly what I like about these kinds of novels.....you've convinced me to add this to my summer list. :)

Jennifer 7/21/10, 5:30 PM  

Well after reading several reviews that kind of make me want to go awww! I definitely need to read this book. I never really thought about checking out the audio version. Maybe I will.

Julie P. 7/21/10, 8:00 PM  

I keep meaning to get to this one because so many people have enjoyed it!

Jen - devourer of books 8/4/10, 12:34 PM  

I agree that his American accents sounded a bit forced, but I liked that in the context of the book, since they seemed so alien to Major Pettigrew.

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