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

Title: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House


Date of Publication: March 2010


Pages: 400 Pages

Format: Audio Book from Library

About the Book: (from

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 respective 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 her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

Related Media/ Interview with the Author:

About the Author: (from:

I have lived in America for over twenty years. I have been a long-time and proud resident of Brooklyn and have recently moved with my family to the Washington D.C. area. However, I was born in England, and when I was a teenager, my family achieved the English dream – to move to a house in the country.

East Sussex, with its sleepy villages, medieval smuggling towns, and unique pebble-bank shores is my vision of ‘home.’ My family lives near Rye, a 14th Century smuggling port on a cobbled hill, from which the sea receded long ago. It is marooned in the eerie landscape once home to smugglers, yet clings to its designation as a member of the Cinque Ports. Close by are the seaside towns of Hastings and Eastbourne and to the west, the Downs swell up into a ridge of grassy hills topped by the hundred mile trail known as the South Downs Way. It is literary country – Henry James at Lamb House, Rye; Kipling at Batemans, Burwash; Virginia Woolf at Monk’s House, near Lewes – and this heritage was always a great inspiration to me.

As a young woman, I could not wait to go to college in London, or to move three thousand miles away from home to America. Yet I have always carried with me a longing for England that will not fade. I think this dichotomy – between the desire for home and the urge to leave – is of central interest to my life and my writing.

My Review:
I don’t recall where I first read about Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simon. I had read enough book blogger’s reviews to know I had to read this book. I listened to the audio of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and I am glad I did. I am infatuated with English accents so this is a delight to listen to. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is set in a small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex. I loved this setting and could envision this little village that did seem to be very old fashioned.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a quaint little love story between two older, unlikely people, Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali. The Major has a wonderful sense of sarcasm that was even drier than my hubby’s! The Major is an older widow with one adult child, Roger. Roger was an annoying character who was always trying to improve his standings in life by meeting affluent people. He drove me nuts with his name dropping. Mrs. Ali is the local shop owner, originally from Pakistan. She is a lovely character. She is intelligent and full of life and while cognizant of the values of her heritage, she was willing to go against convention to ensure her own happiness. Both the Major’s and Mrs. Ali’s families, like all families can be messy, complicated and unkind.

My favorite character had to be Abdul Wahid. Abdul was set in the old ways of his heritage, but yet conflicted about it. Abdul ended up being a very complicated person with many layers to him. He was misunderstood at times or maybe even conflicted about his own feelings.  This was a fairly quick listen that was very enjoyable to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5 – a light enjoyable listen. The accents on the audio were wonderful. I love my English accents!!

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Happy Reading!






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