Title: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Authors: Simonson, Helen
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 457
Year: 2010
ISBN-10(13): 9781742371849
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Language: English
Description: Village politics, family disputes, property developers, religious conflict, hunting, a golf club and a good dollop of snobbery, the quintessential English village of Edgecombe St Mary has it all. At the heart of the story is retired widower Major Pettigrew and his developing relationship with Mrs Ali, the Pakistani village shopkeeper. A light hearted and entertaining story with colourful characters and an underlying examination of stereotypes and cultural expectations.

Comments from Groups:

Everyone enjoyed this book, a rollicking good story with a diverse range of characters. Challenging themes set in a meaningful context. Morrinsville 001

Enjoyed the humour and good use of language. Otautau 001

Humorous, but with a serious message about racism and non-acceptance of newcomers. Those who grew up in rural England felt it was true of the England we knew. Mangonui 001

Laugh out loud funny in some places. Lower Hutt 004

Quite twee but enjoyable nonetheless. Nelson 17

A sweet take with undertones of racism and snobbery. Characters well developed. Auckland 050

The way social problems and clashes of cultures are presented here, shows the author is a wise woman. Some traditional values make our lives richer, others need to be changed when they no longer are true to our human development. Hamilton 034

We all enjoyed reading of Major Pettigrew. A gentle story of ageing, misunderstandings, long established traditions, family dictates, petty prejudices and communal life in a small village. The character of the Major was well drawn, and we loved his ascerbic dry wit. And we all love a happy ending. Whitianga 002

As anticipated, the group enjoyed this as a great holiday read. While the characters were caricatures and stock figures to an extent, the inherent humanity and gentle humour fleshed them out. The only jarring note we felt was the "heroic" rescue on the cliff at the end. Te Horo 002

Some of us thought that this book was wonderful; funny, clever dialogue, original similes and metaphors and a satisfying ending. Others considered it contrived, 'obviously' a first novel, boring and difficult to finish. The diversity of opinion was unusual and very marked. Possibly it is a novel that would appeal more to women than to our group, which is all men. wanganui 011

Thoroughly enjoyable - a laugh out loud experience! Well written with great characters. Christchurch 238

Beautiful book that everyone loved - highly recommended. If we had to mark every page that a gem was found, every page would be marked. Otorohanga 003

Three(female) members of the group thoroughly enjoyed the pace and themes of the book, while others felt that Helen Simonson had been away from England too long, and the kind of East Sussex village she depicts doesn't exist anymore... The characters and the situations did not feel real or particularly engrossing, but a couple of members pointed out how nicely the moments of falling in love were described, with weather effects to match... Auckland 376

Wonderful. A superbly written social satire, told with humour and evidencing a deep understanding of human foibles. Entrenched racism, a study of English manners and gentility, a love story and a questioning of modernity and mores of the younger generation all combine to provide an entertaining yet provocative read. Highly recommended. Otaki 001

Categories: Fiction, Community, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Humour, Love story, Religion, Uplifting, England, Light style, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, Blind Foundation book


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By: PIOPIO 001 2020-05-29 11:18:22
Everyone loved this read, fairly light, humorous, but with great depth of meaning. Characters were almost plausible within the setting, and there were lots of little twists and turns in the plot. We had really good discussion expecially around class and race within society.

By: AUCK 412 2019-10-11 12:37:51
An absolutely delightful book. All members quite happy about this easy to read book.

By: FEILD 005 2019-06-19 17:35:26
Everybody enjoyed the book. Quite a discussion took place about the huge changes that have taken place in society. Noted how the Major wanted to hand on the guns through the generations but the young ones wanted them sold so they could get the money.

By: AUCK 395 2019-04-09 09:44:37
The group were split between 'an ok read' and a less favourable opinion. Major Pettigrew became a more relatable character as the book progressed, and Grace was perhaps the most appealing of the characters. The ending was appreciated, whilst the golf club do seemed a little forced.

By: NELS 056 2018-11-26 15:01:30
A pleasant read but it didn't appear to be very deep or meaningful!

By: NAP 030 2018-11-26 15:00:40
Half the group found the book an ok light read. The other half thought the main character was implausible and "fake". We agreed that her descriptions of minor characters were great.

By: BLENH 014 2018-11-26 14:57:57
We loved this book! Major Pettigrew was a likeable character who we willed to a happy ending. The residents of Edgecombe St Mary came alive as we turned the pages. An easy, sweet read.

By: AUCK 389 2018-11-26 14:55:48
Everyone enjoyed the book. Well-written and humorous. VERY English - possibly of a bygone era - but nonetheless entertaining, and raising generational issues of changing values and priorities. A lovely love story too.

By: WAITAK 002 2018-11-26 14:53:21
Nice to see a story about older lovers. We liked the characters of Major Pettigrew and Mrs Ali, also Grace, and we thought Roger and Abdul were amazing. The descriptions of the garden, Rose cottage and Roger's cottage were easy to imagine/picture.

By: THAM 005 2018-10-29 10:39:13
Most people found this a light, enjoyable read with several commenting they enjoyed the writing style more than the story. We felt there were a number of underlying themes and some considered the bigotry of the small village and golf club are still likely to be found in small villages today. Our one male member described it as a woman's book about a man and as such had superficial characterisation, although he came to enjoy the story.

By: CHCH 449 2018-07-07 18:33:12
LIght-hearted, amusing and enjoyed by all members. A minor criticism was that Major Pettigrew was only 68, the approximate age of several group members, but he was portayed as being nearer to 85! Good discussion focussed on racial prejudices in UK.

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