Monday, January 17, 2011

February's pick: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

In her witty and wise debut novel, newcomer Helen Simonson introduces the unforgettable character of the widower Major Ernest Pettigrew. The Major epitomizes the Englishman with the "stiff upper lip," who clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his yuppie son, Roger. The story centers around Pettigrew's fight to keep his greedy relatives (including his son) from selling a valuable family heirloom--a pair of hunting rifles that symbolizes much of what he stands for, or at least what he thinks he does. The embattled hero discovers an unexpected ally and source of consolation in his neighbor, the Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali. On the surface, Pettigrew and Ali's backgrounds and life experiences couldn't be more different, but they discover that they have the most important things in common. This wry, yet optimistic comedy of manners with a romantic twist will appeal to grown-up readers of both sexes. --Lauren Nemroff


Lauri said...

I don't like books set in England, unless they are alternate universes, post apocalypse or of course zombies. Everyone seems so prim, proper and stuffy. It took me almost 75 pages to even like the book. After that I started to enjoy it. Although there were a lot of characters I didn't like it did keep me entertained. Which is all I really need in a book.

Page 183(LP) "She said if I maintained my aversion to change I risked being reincarnated as a granite post."
Page 297(LP) "Only sometimes when we pick and choose among the rules we discover later that we have set aside something precious in the process."

Anonymous said...

This book had a really slow start, but I did end up enjoying the ending. I didn't like Major Pettigrew. He was a little to "proper" for me. The only characters that I did like were Mrs. Ali & Sandy. However, I ended up enjoying the story in the long run.

"Yes, personally I never travel by train without a chicken," said Mrs. Ali, looking with great intent at the dancers. (pg. 256)

Annell said...

It took me about 100 pages before I started to enjoy this book. Some of the characters are rude, obnoxious and out right mean, and I really have a hard time reading books with a lot of those types in it. I'm glad I stuck with it though. It was good read, with some good lessons to be learned...friendship and relationships are much more important than things or can exist between two people regardless of background, culture, and crazy relatives. Although the Major was very proper, I liked his dry humor. I especially liked Mrs. Ali and Major Pettigrew's crazy neighbor, Alice. Plus, I was very pleased with the ending.

Favorite Quotes:
"He said no more, but his scowl deepened, and the Major marveled anew at the way so many people were willing to spend time and energy on the adverse judgment of others." pg. 155

"Roger and Sandy went to fetch their hamper and as the Major tried not to think of truffles, which he had always avoided because the stank like sweaty groins, Abdul Wahid came out of the house." pg. 175