Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Club Meeting: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

by Helen Simonson
Random House, 2010
355 pages

Since it's recent paperback release, it seems that Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is everywhere.  Like most other bloggers, I really enjoyed this charming, cozy novel. An escape to the English countryside was the perfect diversion from our unrelenting winter weather. 

Eight members of my book club braved the elements last week and gathered for our monthly discussion. We generally meet in member's homes, but the snow has caused parking issues for many of us and we chose to visit the local coffee shop instead. Seven of us finished the book, and one was still reading. 

Our meetings begin with a quick poll of reactions to the book. Seven of us liked or loved it (I gave it 4 stars) and one member had a lukewarm to slightly negative reaction.  A few thought this was the best book the group has read in a long time.

Overall, we appreciated the simple, straight-forward story that offered a variety of topics for discussion.  A group of eight women can sit around talking about family dynamics, love, racism, cultural differences, development/environmental issues for hours... and we did.

As I was reading the book, a nagging worry of mixing titles with another favorite (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) ran through my mind. As it turned out, I was not alone. Thankfully, none of us referred to the book as 'Major Pettigrew Lives for a Day', but we did conclude that a book with 'Pettigrew' in the title is probably a winner!

Reviews of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand can be found though Firefly's Book Blogs Search Engine.


  1. Glad to hear all but (1) liked this one. I bought a copy in 2011 and hope to read it soon. I'm reading and listening to Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and loving it.

  2. It is so confusing! Good book group choice I think...

  3. The title is a bit too close to the other one isn't it. I have been wanting to read this for ages though.

  4. First of all, I am so impressed that you all braved the snow to attend the book club in that weather - I, myself, have turned into a bit of a scaredy-cat since moving to Florida :) I do need to read this one soon, I've read a bunch of wonderful reviews the past few months! Glad you enjoyed this one as well!

  5. I think I was the one blogger in a thousand who had a lukewarm response to this book. I listened to it on audio, and the narrator was great, so I can't blame that. It was charming, but about halfway through, I began to wish it was over. I can definitely see where there would be great discussion though...there were some real interesting characters in this story!

  6. I declared last year my year of reading Pettigrew, as I read both books, and loved both books. I wonder what the next Pettigrew book will be?

  7. I admit the name "Pettigrew" still throws me off a bit.

    I'm glad you all mostly liked this book! If my book club wasn't such a failure maybe I'd recommend it to mine as well. Otherwise I might see if I can find the audio version. Question about your group and how you formed? I need to find a new group but my library doesn't have an evening group and none of my non-work friends are big readers. I've looked on Craig's list per Jill's suggestion but have only found romance/chick lit type groups! Anyway...maybe a Sunday Salon post... ;)

  8. Some one left a copy of this, along with several other books, on the staff room table and I almost picked it up. It was gone by the end of the day and I had missed my chance.

  9. I loved the book, but I think the author (or publisher) might have deliberately used "Pettigrew" so that it would be confused with Miss P and the well-publicized movie.

  10. Ha - I know I HAVE thought about it as "Major Pettigrew Lives for a Day" more than once :P I have this on my lisr for this year... very curious to get to it.

  11. I enjoyed this one, but didn't love it. I felt that bits of it were a bit over the top and bordered on farce but the Major? Adored him.

  12. I recently bought this one and can't wait to read it!

  13. Another vote for someone who just about always has an image of a certain Persephone title when this one is mentioned!

    Snowbanks sound like they're getting quite high in your neck of the woods, JoAnn.

  14. I stand by my one word review of cute. It was fun, but it's not a book that I find myself thinking about.

  15. I also greatly enjoyed this book and agree with Thomas that the name choice was probably a deliberate one :-)

  16. Yes--Miss Pettigrew's Last Stand must be on my shelf somewhere...

  17. I thought this would be a great book club book and I'm glad to hear your club enjoyed it. I thought it was a winner!

  18. If I ever decide to be an author I'll remember the "Pettigrew" magic. LOL.

    I bet this would be a good book club pick. I really loved the book.

  19. Diane - Isn't Miss Pettigrew amazing? I hope you enjoy this Pettigrew, too!

    Verity - Yes, it is... but still a good book club choice.

    Vivienne - I'm trying to think if I've ever read books with such similar titles. Hope you enjoy this one!

    Coffee and a Book Chick - We'd be indoors from November through April if we let the snow stop us!

    Sandy - I can understand you being lukewarm on this... you tend to like books with a little more action I think;-)

    Raidergirl3 - The year of reading Pettigrew - I love it!

    Trish - My bookgroup is pretty unusual. We actually started out as a play group when my oldest daughter was 3. When our younger kids started school, we realized we had all become such good friends and wanted to keep meeting, so we 'reinvented' ourselves as a book club! Many from the original group have moved, etc, but that is still our core. Can you start an evening library group? Maybe not the best timing with baby just a few months away though...

    C.B. James - I'm not sure if you would like this one or not... it may be a little too sweet.

    Thomas - I never considered that Pettigrew may have been used intentionally, but now that you mention it...

  20. Nymeth - So I'm in good company;-) Hope you enjoy this, too.

    Ti - Sounds like our reactions were very similar... and I loved The Major, too!

    Sam - Hope you like it, too!

    Darlene - Looks like there were quite a few of us thinking along those lines. Snow is becoming just unbearable around here... I'm raising the white flag to Mother Nature!

    Softdrink - Loved your review ;-)

    Rochester Reader - Funny I never considered the choice being deliberate until Thomas mentioned it, but you are probably both right!

    Lifetime Reader - LOL! Love those Pettigrews!

    Marie - Definitely a perfect selection for my group!

    Beth F - The Pettigrew magic certainly worked on us!

  21. I so would like to read this one!! I think it would be fun to have a book club that everyone participated in. A friend and I have been thinking about starting one but we're afraid that everyone will leave everything to us month after month.

  22. Staci - I think you should try starting a book club! Maybe you and your friend could work out the ground rules first, so people know what they're getting into.


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