lindajo528, January 25, 2011 (view all comments by lindajo528)
A gentle old fashioned love story in a very modern context. Widowed Major Pettigrew comes from a distinguished old family in a small English town. He befriends another widow, Pakistani Mrs. Ali, who runs the local grocery. Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali are kindred spirits, but in their small English town, socials mores still rule the day. Told with wry humor and a light touch author Simonson deftly navigates through the seas of prejudice and delivers a smart story in which love truly does conquer all.
cariola119, April 16, 2010 (view all comments by cariola119)
This book is a bit lighter than my usual fare, but I was absolutely charmed by it. If I lived in Edgcumbe-St.-Mary, I think I'd be in love with the major, too. It's the gentle tale of a widowed retired major who is grieving for his recently-deceased brother when friendship blooms with Mrs. Ali, the widow of a Pakistani shopkeeper. Friendship inevitably turns into stronger affection--but what will the members of the club say (let alone the major's son, a broker schmoozing his way up the corporate ladder)? And will the major ever succeed in reuniting a pair of Churchill shooters given to his father by a maharaja and divided between his sons at his death? Much of the novel centers on conflicts between the "older generation" values of the major and the new values of "progress." Mrs. Ali, too, has conflicts with her own beliefs and the traditional Islamic values of her husband's family. But all is not so serious--particulary due to Major Pettigrew's wonderful wit (which often goes over the heads of others) and some delightfully comic scenes.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Denise Morland, March 14, 2010 (view all comments by Denise Morland)
What a fabulous book! I fell in love with Major Pettigrew from the start. He is so gentle and dryly humorous, willing to own his faults, humble and yet completely fallible and human. When he falls in love with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper in their small English village, he does it wholeheartedly. Yet their relatives and neighbors disapprove and they have to fight racism, ignorance, and censure to stay together. The author, Helen Simonson, does a great job of addressing nasty issues with a light and gentle hand. The Major struggles with what his beliefs confronting religion, environmentalism, and racism with his wisdom and humor. The plot is fast-paced and interesting making this a real page turner with a surprising twist at the end. A fun, heartwarming book that nevertheless examines some serious social issues.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Random House -
by Kelly L.,
Absolutely delightful! Simonson's deftly drawn characters continue to surprise, even when you think you've got them pegged — and Major Pettigrew reminds us that thinking we've got someone pegged is only one of the failures of modern manners. Pettigrew subscribes to the old-fashioned notion that manners are for putting other people at ease, in stark contrast with their more common use: pointing out who doesn't fit in. However, extending grace and goodwill to all does not mean passing up an opportunity for the spot-on one-liner. When the Major attends a duck shoot at the local manor house, he is confronted by the outrageous get-up of a wealthy American: "a shooting jacket of a tartan with which the Major was unfamiliar. Blinding puce, crossed with lines of green and orange... [Ferguson] raised his arms to show stretchy green side panels that resembled a medical corset." The American says, "You're old school, Major. Say, how do you like my neoprene sweat panels?" The Major's reply both avoids a falsehood and causes the American to delight in his dry sense of humor: "Do those assist one in swimming after the ducks, perhaps?" Major Pettigrew is well aware of his own proclivities toward pride and perhaps a touch of greed, but at the same time, his compassion causes him to defy convention and follow his heart, contradicting all the manners and presumptions that his little village in the heart of Sussex, England, can throw his way, ultimately redefining what it means to be a hero.
by Kelly L.
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Unexpectedly entertaining, with a stiff-upper-lip hero who transcends stereotype, this good-hearted debut doesn't shy away from modern cultural and religious issues, even though they ultimately prove immaterial."
"There is a great deal going on in these pages.... Simonson handles it all with great aplomb, and her Major...is the perfect lens through which to view contemporary England."
by Elizabeth Strout,
"In the noisy world of today it is a delight to find a novel that dares to assert itself quietly with the lovely rhythm of Helen Simonson's funny, comforting, and intelligent first novel — a modern day story of love which takes everyone, grown children, villagers, and the main participants, by surprise — as real love stories tend to do."
by Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter and The New Yorkers,
"I love this book. Courting curmudgeons, wayward sons, religion and race and real-estate in a petty and picturesque English village – Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is surprisingly, wonderfully romantic and fresh. Unsentimental, intelligent and warm, this endlessly amusing comedy of manners is the best first novel I've read in a long, long time."
"This irresistibly delightful, thoughtful, and utterly charming and surprising novel reads like the work of a seasoned pro. In fact, it is Simonson's debut. One cannot wait to see what she does next." Library Journal, starred review
by New York Times Book Review,
"The real pleasure of this book derives . . . from its beautiful little love story, which is told with skill and humor. . . . That love can overcome cultural barriers is no new theme, but it is presented here with great sensitivity and delicacy. . . . As for happy endings, [the book] deserves all available prizes."
by New York Times,
"Funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling... As with the polished work of Alexander McCall Smith, there is never a dull moment but never a discordant note either... [the book's] main characters are especially well drawn, and Ms. Simonson makes them as admirable as they are entertaining... It's all about intelligence, heart, dignity and backbone. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand has them all."
by Washington Post,
"When depicted by the right storyteller, the thrill of falling in love is funnier and sweeter at 60 than at 16... With her crisp wit and gentle insight, Simonson is still far from her golden years... but somehow in her first novel she already knows just what delicious disruption romance can introduce to a well-settled life."
Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside is filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and contains a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of readers' own families. Their interactions are both hilarious and heartbreaking.
A profoundly moving, deliciously suspenseful novel about an American grandfather and a newly orphaned boy racing across the Norwegian wilderness, fleeing demons both real and imagined.
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.
Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger Award winner
An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR
A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR
A luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read
Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.
Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbors young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldons experience of time and memory. He is haunted by dreams of his son Sauls life and by guilt over his death. As Sheldon and the boy look for a haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.
Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters—Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers—as they chase one another, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.