Thursday, September 23, 2010

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson (Audio)


Major Pettigrew is a 68 year-old widower living in a small village in England who just lost his younger brother to an unexpected demise, making him take stock in his life. He is a proper, distinguished man who is set in his ways, loves his routine golf game, and is just a tad bit lonely. He finds himself attracted to the 58 year-old widow Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani woman who runs the local shop. In the past, he may have restrained from a relationship not deemed "proper" by the townsfolk because of Mrs. Ali's social status and the color of her skin, but the Major is beginning to see the merit of seizing the day.

The trouble is that the Major is surrounded by the prejudiced, judgemental, greedy, self-absorbed, materialistic members of his community. Ones that whisper behind his back about his relationship with Mrs. Ali. Ones that thrive on waving around the prestige of a country club membership, or an annual gala. His family isn't any better. His adult son is a spoiled, immature brat, and his brother's widow just wants to get her hands on the family guns to sell to the highest bidder. Throughout the story, one has to wonder when the mild-mannered Major is going to blow.

It is refreshing to read a story about finding love in the golden years of life, all the while gently nudging the conscience about issues of religion, class and race and the hypocrisy in a small town. The message could have come across as preachy, but instead was subtle and sweet, with a dose of endearing British wit. As a result, just about every review I've read has showered love and kisses on the book.

My experience was not so grand. For some reason, while I recognized the dearness of the story, I wanted to cry from boredom. The narrator, Peter Altschuler, had a wonderful voice with a lilting British accent. So it really wasn't his problem. Perhaps there wasn't enough action, maybe too much dialogue, or I was distracted, but I was PRAYING for it all to end. Would it translate better in print? Maybe, although Jen loved the audio. Chalk it up to misaligned moons I suppose.

2.5 out of 5 stars






16 comments:

JoAnn said...

Hmmm.... I have this waiting on the shelf (hardcover). Yours may be the first less than glowing review I've seen. Curious to see how I'll react to it.

irisonbooks said...

I have this on my shelves and I've been hesitant to pick it up because I think I will expect too much because of everyone's glowing reviews. Like JoAnn said, yours is the first less than stellar review I've seen..

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm one of those who loved this book. But I'm all too familiar with misaligned moons when reading!

Jen - devourer of books said...

Heather (http://www.capriciousreader.com/) loved the audio too. It wasn't a very action-driven book, though, and if that is what you were in the mood for I an see how this might be a bit boring.

Zibilee said...

I remember reading that you were struggling with this one. It doesn't sound much like a book that I would enjoy either. Too sedate, I guess. I am sorry to hear that you had such a hard time with it, but I do appreciate your honest thoughts.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I'd like to try this one, but I am certain I will try it in print. Audiobooks don't brook slow storylines well, imo.

farmlanebooks said...

I was really excited about this book before its release, but have increasingly come to realise that it isn't for me. I even decided to not take a copy when I was offered it for free at a book swap I go to. I'm quietly pleased that you aren't making me regret that descision :-)

Melissa M said...

Hmmm, this surprises me. I haven't read it, so I don't have anything to compare your experience too. But, from other reviews I'd read I thought this one would have been a hit...

bermudaonion said...

Sorry this didn't work for you. I haven't read it, but my indie bookseller handsells it, comparing it to Jane Austen.

Kathleen said...

Most of the reviews I've read of this one are positive but sometimes I think books just don't find us at the right time. I've got it on my list but probably won't rush to read it.

Alyce said...

I can completely understand when the moons don't align. :) There are some books that I think you just have to be in the mood for to like them, and of course the audio can be the reason too. I still haven't made my mind up about this one yet.

Jenners said...

Well, it just wasn't for you ... but don't you hate it when you don't like a book that everyone else loves -- it makes you question yourself. But I so appreciate your honesty.

Melody said...

I found this book at the library, but just didn't pick it up though I've read a few good reviews on it. After reading your review I'm glad I didn't pick it up.

The Bumbles said...

I would think an audio of a book with less action would make it less enjoyable. But it does sound like there were plenty of societal topics going on to garner attention so I'm guessing it wouldn't have mattered much if you read it instead - it just wasn't your cuppa. No harm, no foul.

heidenkind said...

Or maybe it's just bad!

C.B. James said...

I'm impressed that you stuck it out to the end. If I'd been as bored as you were, I would have thrown in the towel. In fact, just last night C.J. and I started watching a DVD and became so bored by it that five minutes in we decided to send it back to Netflix unwatched.

(My word verification word is "jewarrob". How strange is that?)