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Extended Audio Sample Major Pettigrews Last Stand: A Novel Audiobook, by Helen Simonson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00003952803526 out of 53.00003952803526 out of 53.00003952803526 out of 53.00003952803526 out of 53.00003952803526 out of 5 3.00 (50,597 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Helen Simonson Narrator: Peter Altschuler Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2010 ISBN: 9780307712851
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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?


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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. Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter and The New Yorkers
  • 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
  • “Funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling…As with the polished work of Alexander McCall Smith, there is never a dull moment…Its main characters are especially well drawn, and Ms. Simonson makes them as admirable as they are entertaining. They are traditionally built, and that’s not just Mr. McCall Smith’s euphemism. It’s about intelligence, heart, dignity, and backbone. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand has them all.”

    New York Times

  • “This thoroughly charming novel wraps Old World sensibility around a story of multicultural conflict involving two widowed people who assume they’re done with love. The result is a smart romantic comedy about decency and good manners in a world threatened by men’s hair gel, herbal tea, and latent racism…If Simonson can keep this up, she could be heir to the late John Mortimer, and if the ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ people aren’t already sending out casting calls for Major Pettigrew, they should get a move on with decorous haste.”

    Washington Post

  • “The author’s dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true…urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major’s beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “One cannot wait to see what [Simonson] does next.”

    Library Journal

  • “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.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • 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. Elizabeth Strout
  • 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. New York Times Book Review
  • 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. New York Times
  • "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. Washington Post
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award Honourable Mention
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the March 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurel Bailey | 2/19/2014

    " I so enjoyed this story of a rigid retired military man, and how an unorthodox relationship transformed his life and how he thinks. You will be sad when the characters leave your life at the end of this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim T | 2/16/2014

    " I had a hard time with this book. I thought it was pretty well written, but I did not care for most of the characters! The Major grew somewhat through the story, which was good. The only character I liked was Mrs. Ali. As for the other characters, I found myself disliking them intensely. They were stereotyped, prejudiced, and generally very self-focused. I believe the author was trying to go for this, but quite frankly it made me grumpy to read it and didn't like it at all. I only finished it because it's a book club book. Makes me wonder what type of a cynical view the author has of people in general, on both sides of the Atlantic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hal Halbert | 2/9/2014

    " At times moving, politely humorous, and yet upsetting, MPLS offers a compelling look at age, class, integration, and family in a book that combines the best of modern storytelling with nineteenth-centruy British novels of manners. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katherina | 2/8/2014

    " Thoroughly enjoyed the old fashioned writing, manners, and story. A light read and nice reminder of gentlemanly ways. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin Berndt | 2/3/2014

    " delightful! I found myself smiling while reading this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kzab | 1/31/2014

    " Every character except the heroine annoyed me, and there was so much conflict, rude behavior and snide comments about Americans I was stressed reading this! The ending redeemed it all which brought my rating up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vicki | 1/31/2014

    " This is a sweet love story set in England between a 68 year old retired major and a younger Pakastani shop keeper. He is a bit set in his ways but she brings him closer by their shared love of Kipling and other literature. There are some bumps along the way - her late husband's family wanting her to live with them; a nephew's relationship with the mother of his child; and even Major Pettigrew's relationship with his own shallow son. Things come to a head during a country club party. How he brings together his feelings for his hometown, his friends, and his desire to reunite with Mrs. Ali make for interesting reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/24/2014

    " Loved every page. Did not want it to end. Would be a wonderful movie. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 1/20/2014

    " I keep searching for a new novel by this author .. Loved the story, adored the characters! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Virginia Carmichael | 1/17/2014

    " One of those books that makes you wish you could really write. Beautiful. And I love that the romance is between older characters, with grown children, and it doesn't seem forced. Keeping this one for the shelf. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 1/3/2014

    " It's truly satisfying to find a book that doesn't assume that passion and romance belongs to the young (or even the middle-aged). There is just enough family and cultural conflict and tension to draw one, but I would have been happy just to get to know the characters. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Aimeeshirk | 12/24/2013

    " I had a hard time getting into this and never finished. Could have been bad timing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Faithmarko | 12/18/2013

    " Best book I've read in a long time. Great character development. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily Tonello | 12/16/2013

    " A wonderfully-illustrated and unique love story, but so much more! Loved it. Helen Simonson has an incredible talent for describing beauty - both physical and emotional. I'd suggest this book to women of all ages, and was a wonderful book club read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenn | 12/4/2013

    " This book is charming and well written. I loved the characters and I think the cover is so clever. I read it for RBC in 2011 and then again for Debbie's book club in 2012- I enjoyed it both times! Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dianne | 11/26/2013

    " sweet love story, modern in its approach. good life lessons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danielle Gammons | 11/21/2013

    " I thought he was a pompous jerk and did not care for him in the beginning. He grew on me though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia Lanter | 10/9/2013

    " From the narrator's voice to the plot that is the equivalent of drinking a quiet cup of tea. This book hooked me from the first chapter and was surprisingly funny and romantic.Perfect for any Downton Abbey junkie who wishes for "the good old days." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lora | 7/22/2013

    " I mostly loved it, but a few parts I didn't love. The characters are great. I usually wanted to kick Roger (M. Pettigrew's son) in the shins-- he might be the worse son ever-- but I was pleased with the slight turnaround at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Petula Darling | 7/10/2013

    " Very sweet and quite funny. A little slow paced, but in an enjoyable way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeni | 5/2/2013

    " really enjoyed her rich, visually descriptive prose and good character development. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy Whittle | 12/20/2012

    " A brilliant story, wonderfully told. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neha | 11/23/2012

    " I love English humor and wonderful characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helena | 7/19/2012

    " Loved this book! The ending is not as expected. Heart-warming and loving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shellieslp | 5/20/2012

    " Interesting story about different family cultures and expectations. I enjoyed reading it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 5/6/2012

    " I loved this book. I miss the characters and didn't want the book to end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nandini | 4/11/2012

    " Lovely mix of humor, romance and pragmatism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Ann | 12/2/2011

    " Charming story and a most enjoyable read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anglophile | 11/29/2011

    " Wonderful, sweet story... Totally agree with Joyce - Alan Rickman as Major Pettigrew would be brilliant casting. He's the right age, build and height and has the talent to capture the Major's wit and demeanor. All through the book, I kept thinking of Rickman. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly Schooler | 11/22/2011

    " I truly loved this quiet book that speaks to growing older with the changes of families and friends and finding your own happiness sometimes in spite of the people we love......it is much like the Guernsey LIterary and Potato peel society but it takes place in the present. I finished it in two days "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trvls | 7/31/2011

    " I enjoyed this book very much and so did a male cousin who works in an athletic supply store. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie | 5/24/2011

    " Really, really enjoyed this book! Good stuff "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carrie | 5/24/2011

    " There were parts that were fun, but I had no problem putting the book down. Ended up taking it back to the library before I finished it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 5/24/2011

    " This book was a sweet love story. It started out slow in the begining but picked up towards the end. It was hard to believe that it took place in the modern day. It seems that type of prejudice should not exist in today's society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andra | 5/23/2011

    " Crotchety old men falling in love kinda makes me feel more hopeful about life in general. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 5/23/2011

    " Just loved this book - the two central characters were both beautifully drawn - very gentle & old fashioned. The other charactedrs were so easy to imagine as well. Would def recommend!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joyce | 5/22/2011

    " Delightful, charming. Alan Rickman should play the title character in the film and perhaps Shohreh Aghdashloo could be Mrs. Ali. That would be fun to see. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy | 5/22/2011

    " This is a pleasant, feel good book. I'm about halfway through but am enjoying it. The characters are very likable. Not a heavy read but pleasant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 5/21/2011

    " I loved this book. So many areas and subjects to scrutinize, and such delightful writing and portrayal of people and their values. A sweet love story and a real look at the problems of racism and prejudice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbykc | 5/21/2011

    " i don't know why so many people liked it. it would make a better movie than book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roadrunner | 5/21/2011

    " The characters are very endearing. If you like "As Time Goes By" on PBS, you'll love thus book. "

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About the Author
Author Helen SimonsonHELEN SIMONSON was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics, she has spent the last three decades in the United States and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is married, with two grown sons, and is the author of the New York Times-bestselling debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. This is her second novel.
About the Narrator

Peter Altschuler is an actor as well as a voice-over artist. His voice can be heard in commercials for Mercedes Benz, on the Nickelodeon show Addictive Games, and as the narrator of audiobooks, including several that earned him the AudioFile Earphones Award.