Major Ernest Pettigrew (Ret’d) is not interested in the frivolity of the modern world. Since his wife Nancy’s death, he has tried to avoid the constant bother of nosy village women, his grasping, ambitious son, and the ever spreading suburbanisation of the English countryside, preferring to lead a quiet life upholding the values that people have lived by for generations - respectability, duty, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But when his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs Ali, the widowed village shopkeeper of Pakistani descent, the Major is drawn out of his regimented world and forced to confront the realities of life in the 21st century.
©2010 Helen Simonson (P)2010 AudioGO Ltd
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It tells a wonderful and clever yarn about parochial Britain. It weaves intergenerational and racial considerations intricately into the text. I found it very engaging and entertaining. The reader is excellent and easy to listen to. He changes his voice to represent each different character which heightens the listening experience. Well done.
As an expatriate Brit, living in Africa, I LOVED this book for the beautiful descriptions of English village life, the countryside, and the quirky eccentricities of the older generation of English society. A gentle story of love in life’s “Autumn years”, interwoven with the harsher elements of family greed, racial prejudice & snobbery – but with deft touches of humour to lighten the gloom of humanity behaving badly. Beautifully written & a perfect choice of reader – I immediately looked on Audible.com for books featuring the author (none) & narrator (lots – hurray!). Heartily recommended.
This would be one of my favourite audbiobooks so far. The narration is outstanding - BIll Wallis is pitch perfect as all the characters, especially Pettigrew - and the story is warm and engaging. I found myself thinking about the characters and what they would do next when I wasn't listening to the book. I can't recommend this audiobook highly enough.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
Major Ernest Pettigrew, a sixty-eight year old widower who hasn't yet gotten over the death of his wife six year hence, has just lost his younger brother quite suddenly and is understandably very upset about the news. When he sets out to leave his house and drive over to his sister-in-law's, he is taken by a temporary malaise just as the local shopkeeper, Mrs Ali stops by for a visit. The kind middle-aged lady helps the Major recover, even offering to drive him to his brother's funeral when he doesn't feel able to do so himself. And so a beautiful friendship is born. An unlikely friendship, with differing class and ethnic backgrounds (she's Pakistani), combined with life in a small English village, making such a pairing fodder for plenty of gossip and disapproval among the Major's friends and neighbours; his insufferable financier son is opposed to their union because it doesn't fit into his notions of career or socially enhancing manoeuvres; Mrs Ali's nephew, who helps her in the shop is also dead-set against the pairing, having recently returned from studies in Pakistan and renewed his Muslim faith with extreme vigour. Meanwhile, the Major's number one fixation is reuniting a pair of antique hunting rifles inherited from his father, a concern which seems to be a chief preoccupation for the whole family.
This story sounded like it had all the makings of an unbearably cute lovey-dovey story that should have gottten royally on my nerves. But I was quite thrown off my curmudgeonly stance by characters that seemed genuine and rather likeable, or wonderfully despicable, facing real-life situations and difficulties of the sort we can all relate to, (SPOILER ALERT:) all the while knowing love must prevail. I was prepared to take in the inevitable happy ending with a healthy dose of grumpy condescension, but there were plenty of unforeseen complications along the way that made getting there quite a fun trip. (END OF SPOILER)
To top it all off, I just adored listening to this story read by Bill Wallis, who's voice is perfect for the Major and who does a fine job of interpreting each character. He made a charming story that much more enjoyable. A very enthusiastic HURRAY for the Major!!!
This is a fun book to listen to, quite light weight, but well written and very well narrated. I enjoyed it very much.
A British Major, all the stereotypes well set, keeps his honour by keeping his old, well-formed ethics in action. A warm and wise and witty read that kept me listening when I should have been working, and listening again to take it all in, again. Delicious.
Compassionate, creative and challenging
I have to say that the beginning of the story, where Major Pettigrew and Mrs Ali meet is quite wonderful. He, dressed in his wife's clematis covered housecoat - she collecting the paper money - and both as embarrassed as anything because they are so out of context.
Yet at the same time there is an immediate sympathy between them in their mutual loss of spouse, magnified so much more for Major Pettigrew by the sudden loss of his brother.
I think he managed to combine the best narration with a good speed of reading so that the story moved at an acceptable pace.
From Lahore and Cambridge they came.....
This is a charming story that turns class and age assumptions upside down. The main characters are well drawn and the basic story moves well and covers some unexpected ground.
Some of the minor characters are a little less believable and seem to be portraying a character trait rather than being a whole person.
Overall, this is a good read/listen and would make a gorgeous film, should anyone take the option ever.
If Helen Simonson writes 100 books I will read all of them and if Bill Wallis narrates 100 books I will listen to all of them.
I will return to this lovely story again. I love the descriptive story and homourous tales of the characters lives.
Without doubt Major Pettigrew.
Once again the Major.
Too many to list.
"Old age is not for softies"
I delighted in this book which tells the story a two very different people with the commonality of loneliness.
I liked the characterisation and felt that those who were not so well drawn were those who were shallow.
I didn't really want to say goodbye to the Major and Jasmina when I finished it!
"A comic delight to be enjoyed wherever you are."
A great tragi-comedy. But mainly a comedy, for me at least. Anyone, like a previous reviewer, finding it depressing obviously inhabits a different world to me!
I listened to Major Pettigrew while travelling and on holiday and found it a genuine delight. My experience was different to both prior UK reviewers however. Maybe it was partly my holiday mood, but I found it wonderfully engaging and yet relaxing. The themes were potentially going to be either trivialised or unduly serious for a light read, but I found them handled with a sure touch, warmth and great humour. I felt we were being invited to laugh at ourselves rather than at the characters as such. Great humour often requires some degree of cruelty and challenge to our comfortable lives, and this was no exception.
The narrator did a fine job of differentiating characters with appropriate accents - no mean feat, and apparently not achieved by the USA version. Some of the characters could be regarded as stereotypical I suppose, but this didn't worry me as I recognised them (especially from my parents' generation in East Sussex) and I guess this helped me fill in any gaps.
Hugely enjoyable - I recommend it.
"An unexpected delight!"
I have just finished Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and was not disappointed. I feel like I have reached the end of that rare kind of book that is widereaching in it's content, but deep enough to provoke the reader to consider how they might react to the various elements in it's unusual story line. The plot was unexpected although the summary given is accurate. The characters become friends you want to know about and I can't think of a nicer way to enjoy this book than curled up in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter's day!
"Subtle, Beautiful, Intelligent"
Many sections of this book are of note
The main two leads
the path of one's heart / a journey worth taking
"A very enjoyable book"
This is the type of book were you say, 'just one more paragraph'. It is so easy to listen to, with a good story well written and well narrated.
"A terrific modern novel with a nod to tradition"
This is a wonderful story: well written, gripping and very funny.
Major Pettigrew is such a sympathetic character that you root for him right from the start, despite the old fashioned, rather reactionary values which he holds dear at the beginning of the book.
Bill Wallis reads extremely well and most of the characters leap out at you. My one criticism - which is why I've only given five stars for performance - is that he gives all the Asian characters strong accents even though most of them are British born.
The most moving part was towards the end when the Major decides to let his heart rule his head, but I wouldn't want to spoil the plot with details.
I loved this book, it seems to be well researched and the writing was fluid and imaginative. I thought the characters, although somewhat stereotypical, were well observed. I was only disappointed when I came to the end. The descriptions of rural Sussex life and the minutiae of day to day routine, the petty prejudices which can quickly overflow into something more sinister were utterly believable. The narration was brilliant, my only criticism was the editing, from time to time the volume was very low indeed and I had trouble hearing even at full blast. There were also one or two long silent pauses where I mistakenly began to wonder if the story had ended.
"What a book!"
This story, how it was written, the words used, the way it is read just make it the perfect audiobook I could ever think about buying. I am very happy to have it among my collection and to be the proud owner of such a wonderfully written story.
A charming story, told in gentle fashion but with enough interest to hold the reader until the end. Makes a change to read a fictional account from an older mind's perspective. Narration was well handled too. Characters come alive and the writer makes one want to know how they get on. Good juxtaposition of old fashioned English gentleman and traditional Asian lady.
"Brilliant life affirming story"
Loved this, would never have chosen it but was recommended by a friend when I asked then to give me something that would leave me feeling that all was well with the world. It worked...
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