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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Audiobook

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, author Helen Simonson’s wry, perceptive debut novel about love, the British class system, and family obligations, genially unfolds amid a quaint, leafy English village, tweedy and provincial as any Miss Marple mystery, drafty vicarage and all. Edgecombe St. Mary is home to retired widower Major Ernest Pettigrew, a courtly, roguish martinet whose predictable daily order cracks when he loses his heart to Mrs. Ali, a genteel local Pakistani shopkeeper with “crisp enunciation”, who shares both his devotion to Kipling and the loss of a cherished spouse.

As narrated by Peter Altschuler, 68-year-old Major Pettigrew is a snippy educated snob with a posh accent and sentimental streak. Altschuler inhabits the Major as a man who telegraphs disappointment in Roger, his drippy banker son, through throat-clearings and stutters. But it’s his reading of complicated Mrs. Ali that truly elevates this book. Altschuler articulates her quiet, ruminating spirit and cautious nature by slowing down his own conversational flow. There is deliberateness and intimacy to Mrs. Ali reflected in her low, melodious speech and tinkling laughter. Her insecurities and droll humor sand down the Major’s prickliness and humanize his peevishness. Mrs. Ali, it turns out, is as funny and flawed as the rest of us.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is wistful and rolling, only gradually revealing the origins of blemishes in one’s family life. Roger’s social climbing, hinted at by Altschuler through his slick use of his father, gives way to a more nuanced explanation of the son’s ambition. And when the Major compares Mrs. Ali to other village dames, noting that she’s “a butterfly to their scuffle of pigeons”, you get the sense that Major Pettigrew, crusty, old soul, is meant to bust out flowery paeans to Mrs. Ali, off-key, certainly, but authentic, nonetheless. —Nita Rao

Publisher's Summary

You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart.

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?

©2010 Helen Simonson (P)2010 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (3369 )
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  •  
    Carol 05-05-12
    Carol 05-05-12 Member Since 2014

    I listen to books while I walk my dog, turning even the dreariest rain and cold into a wonderful escape.

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    "Delightful from start to finish"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I loved this book so much, I talked everyone on my team at work into buying it too. The characters were unique, charming and well-drawn, the language and accents utterly entertaining, and the story utterly satisfying. Listening felt like I was eating a delicious piece of candy the whole time and it was so enjoyable, I was sad when the story ended.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 03-13-12
    Linda 03-13-12
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    "Charming, entertaining, old fashioned"
    Where does Major Pettigrew's Last Stand rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    If you like Alexander McCall Smith's


    What did you like best about this story?

    I especially liked the contrast between his son Roger's 21st century behavior<br/>(young professional on the rise in London) and Major Pettigrew's standards<br/>(post WWII English military, old family pride). It made for humorous conflict and<br/>rueful understanding.


    If you could take any character from Major Pettigrew's Last Stand out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Mrs. Ali was the wisest, kindest, most interesting character. She brings out Major Pettigrew's best traits.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Heliopolis, Egypt 03-02-12
    Bonnie Heliopolis, Egypt 03-02-12 Listener Since 2002
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    "Fantastic Surprise!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. Surprising characters that grow and change in amazing ways.


    What other book might you compare Major Pettigrew's Last Stand to and why?

    An everyperson's Jane Austen, maybe. A close--and sympathetic--look at life and society in our times. Not for women only--the men take the lead in this book.


    What about Peter Altschuler???s performance did you like?

    He simply brought every single character to life.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Can friendship turn to love in time to beat back social prejudices, religious conservatism, AND...ENCROACHING SUBURBIA....?


    Any additional comments?

    Oh, I did enjoy this one the first time, and the second...and the third...and the fourth...and maybe I'll go listen to it again now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Kotch 02-21-12
    Anne Kotch 02-21-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Thoroughly satisfying"

    Everything about this book and the reading is just about perfect. The narrative is skillfully constructed to reveal character and events; the prose is witty, insightful, often funny; the main characters are extremely engaging; and the reading is skillful, especially since there are numerous characters and a wide variety of voices and accents. What is really special about this book, however, is how the author addresses several really important issues in the context of a romantic comic novel - love, loyalty, families, parenting of adult children, aging, racism, xenophobia. It's so satisfying that when I finished I started it all over again, just to be able to listen and hear how well structured it is.

    I will say that I had my doubts for the first few minutes, but I was hooked the minute Mrs. Ali came on the scene. A real winner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glynn Southern California 02-18-12
    glynn Southern California 02-18-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Simply enchanting"

    While the enchanting story between the Major and Mrs. Ali is the focal point of the story; I found the relationship between father and son to be of equal interest. I highly recommend this wonderful title to anyone wanting a pleasant, feel good story, with an excellent narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 02-07-12
    Ann 02-07-12

    Ann

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    "Very enjoyable"

    I read the book and liked it so much that I simply had to have the audio version. Wonderful characters and that great dry humor. Loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heike Grebenstein 02-03-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A wonderful love story beautifully read"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand to be better than the print version?

    probably, I loved the fact that it was read in the proper upper class accent. It made it more authentic.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That the love story is between two older people, the characters themselves, the way it is old-fashioned as well as modern, the subtlety of the English humor.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The party. I had tears rolling down my face, it was so funny.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsy 01-30-12
    Betsy 01-30-12

    I am a one time English major, a lifelong reader, gardener, culinary experimenter, and fiber arts artisan. A perfect day for me is spent working with my hands while listening to an absorbing book. I love history and horticulture.

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    "Laughed out loud"

    This was satisfying for the anglophile in me. It is a story based in an English village, yet not as predictable as most. A delightful assortment of characters and events was entertaining and at times I laughed out loud. I was sorry to finish this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 01-21-12
    Kimberly 01-21-12 Member Since 2017

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Don't Miss This One"

    This story is a wonderful surprise. I laughed out loud so many times I know I will be listening again. I can???t say more than the other reviewers ??? don???t miss this one! Major Pettigrew has the wit and charm one would expect from an earlier time, and as his son said; ???pigs will fly if you ever find yourself short of words.??? (or something like that???)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liatris Salem, OR, United States 01-15-12
    Liatris Salem, OR, United States 01-15-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Generational"

    This novel is about my parents' generation and was bittersweet to listen. I so enjoyed it! The subtle portrayal of relationships between charters, Major Pettigrew's embarrassment at expressing emotion in the beginning, (he being English military and all), and the slow revealing of his wisdom and integrity, enables the reader to find his clever, bold problem solving completely believable. The dance scene in the middle of the book is one of those horrifying can't read another word but can't put the book down scenes. Pacing works, narration works, but mostly the gradual change taking place in this man adjusting to a world with which he isn't quite comfortable is a wonderful read when you are not in a hurry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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