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

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

So many people have read and recommended this book! When I saw it in the library recently, I just couldn’t let it be: it was time to finally read it.

And I enjoyed it immensely. It’s not often when you hear good stories about books, that your expectations are met. In this case: yes. It’s a really good read.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: What it is about

Major Pettigrew is a widower, retired from the army and still very correct and precise in his manners. He takes really good care of himself and of his property, like his hunting rifle, which he got from his father. His brother has the identical second rifle, a set that was to be brought together again when one of the brothers died.

But then his brother dies, and his widow isn’t just going to hand him the antique priceless rifle. This is a major point of anguish for Major Pettigrew as there is nothing in his brother’s testament about it.

His son has little time for him, busy as he is making money in London. Major Pettigrew is looked upon as a relic from the old days. But Mrs. Ali, a widow from the corner shop, is always friendly to him and appreciates his good manners.

Major Pettigrew feels more and more attracted to Mrs. Ali. But with her muslim background, and her family in charge of her life, will they be able to become more than friends?

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: What I thought

This was a wonderful book that reminded me a bit of Mr. Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons, although I liked Major Pettigrew more (both the book and the character).

I loved it how Major Pettigrew believes that any mishap can be solved by behaving in his old-fashioned English polite and correct manner. He’s not aware of the modern ways of interacting with people, or if he is, he ignores it.

I felt sorry for Mrs. Ali, who was a strong woman having lead her corner shop for a long time on her own, then being pushed aside by her up and coming nephew, who as a man, has a certain authority over her and her shop. She is a well-read woman and enjoys literary discussions with Major Pettigrew.

There are many occasions when people’s bad manners, ignorance and flippant speech lead to curled-toe reading. But the story is predominantly an uplifting one, that touches on uneasy subjects every now and then.

I read the book with a smile on my face!

Rating: 5/5 stars

I got this book: from the library

I read this in: Dutch (De majoor en mevrouw Ali), the original language is English

Number of pages: 384

First published: 2010

Genre: contemporary fiction

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

35 Responses to Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

  1. nymfaux says:

    great review!!!–am adding it to my library wish list right now!!!

  2. Cindy says:

    It sounds like a perfectly charming book 🙂

  3. nymfaux says:

    there was a waiting list, so I had to put a hold on it–but I can’t wait; I’m really looking forward to it!!! 🙂

  4. Kristi says:

    I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it. I had this book reserved at the library and it’s now ready for me to pick up. I’m excited to get to it. I’ve heard wonderful things and now your review makes me want to start it right away.

  5. I’ve had this book at home for the longest time and I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it but I always seem to find something else to read. I think I should move it up the pile though if you gave it 5 stars!

  6. Mystica says:

    Strangely this book has not surfaced yet here. Hope to get to it eventually.

  7. Nadine Nys says:

    I’ve heard a lot about this book too, Judith, but I wasn’t really convinced … That is, until I read your review. One more on the list… 🙂

  8. Louise says:

    This was a Richard and Judy book club title I think, I’ve had it on my tbr since it came out, I’m looking forward to reading it 🙂

  9. I have a audio copy sitting on my ipod… its been there for over a year (when I lived in Omaha). I keep passing it over.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book, everyone seems to love it. Hopefully I will get around to reading it this year (well… listening).

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mari, it’s a fun book so I hope you will listen to it soon. I hope they do some nice accents, like the posh major and the Pakistani Mrs. Ali. It could be great fun.

  10. If you say this is better than Mr Rosenblums List which I only read and reviewed recently, then this is a must read for me. I must make sure if it is not already on My Wishlist that I add it straight away.

  11. Marie says:

    Very nice review! I read this book some time ago and really enjoyed it. It’s nice to see more people reading it.

  12. I read the first paragraph of your review, and I’m so happy you enjoyed it — I’ll come back and read the rest when I finish the book myself. I just got it from the library!

  13. Trisha says:

    “I read the book with a smile on my face!” ~~ I love this recommendation!

  14. RFW says:

    One of my all-time favorites. I recommend it to everyone!

  15. Amy says:

    Another fantastic review for this book. One of these days I’m going to get myself a copy and read it. I’m sure I will love it, maybe because I appreciate old world good manners and most things British :o) . Bad manners definitely make my toes curl among other things! I’m intrigued by your comment that it reminded you of Mr. Rosenbum’s List, another book on my lengthy TBR list!

  16. Suzanne says:

    I’m so glad you liked this book. At the beginning I was prepared to dislike Major Pettigrew but I grew to really like him and like you I read the book with a smile on my face.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, Major Pettrigrew was a book that I enjoyed just as much as I had hoped I would. Usually books aren’t quite that great as the hype (or praise) they get, but in this case it deserved all the good reviews Id read about it.

  17. Great review! I was surprised at how much the story captured my attention and my heart. But the themes are those we all experience at one time or another…feeling ignored or dismissed; feeling undervalued; feeling controlled.

    I really enjoyed the book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  18. sakura says:

    I’ve heard a lot about this one but didn’t know it was about a mixed friendship which is really interesting to me. Glad you liked it alot!

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