best tracker Skip to main content

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about love, family, and cultural divides, then “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson is the audiobook for you. Published in 2010, this novel quickly became a bestseller and was praised for its witty humor, relatable characters, and insightful commentary on societal norms.

In this audiobook review, we’ll take a closer look at “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” and explore the author’s background, the plot, the writing style, the themes and messages, and the audiobook experience. We’ll also discuss the reception of the book and compare it with the audiobook version. Finally, we’ll provide our overall recommendation and our final thoughts on this heartwarming story.

But first, let’s dive into the background of the author, Helen Simonson.

Key Takeaways

  • “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a heartwarming story about love, family, and cultural divides.
  • The audiobook review explores the plot, writing style, themes, and characters of the book.
  • Helen Simonson’s background as an author is also discussed.
  • The audiobook narration quality and reception of the book are analyzed in the review.
  • The review concludes with a recommendation for the audiobook and final thoughts on the story.

About the Author

Helen Simonson is a British writer born in Buckinghamshire, England. Her writing style is characterized by a keen sense of observation, subtle humor, and a talent for capturing the nuances of daily life. Prior to her success as a novelist, Simonson worked as a freelance journalist, covering a variety of topics ranging from politics to lifestyle.

Simonson’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, published in 2010, was a New York Times bestseller and garnered critical acclaim for its wit and charm. The book has been translated into over 20 languages and adapted for the stage.

Previous Works

Aside from Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Simonson has also written The Summer Before the War (2016), a historical novel set in Sussex at the onset of World War I. The book explores themes of class, gender, and social upheaval during the early 20th century.

Simonson’s most recent work is The Two Lives of Lydia Bird (2020), a poignant novel that delves into the complexities of grief and the power of second chances.

Notable Achievements and Awards

Simonson’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, has received widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards, including:

Year Award Category
2010 Orange Prize for Fiction Longlist
2010 Book of the Year Independent Publisher Awards (UK)
2011 Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Reading the West Book Award Fiction
2011 Library of Virginia Literary Award Fiction


Set in a small English town, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” follows the story of retired Major Ernest Pettigrew, a widower who has just lost his brother. When he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, the two bond over their shared love of literature, leading to a romance that defies the cultural barriers and prejudices of their community.

The audiobook takes listeners on a journey through the ups and downs of their relationship as they navigate not only their own feelings but also the disapproval of their families and neighbors. As their love grows, they must confront issues of tradition, class inequality, and racial prejudice, making “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” a poignant and thought-provoking listen.

Throughout the audiobook, themes of family, heritage, and finding love later in life are interwoven with the societal conflicts, creating a complex and engaging plot. Perfect for fans of contemporary romance with a side of social commentary, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” delivers an emotionally satisfying story that will stay with listeners long after the final chapter.


“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a character-driven audiobook that explores the lives of its ensemble cast. The titular Major Ernest Pettigrew, a widower in his 60s, serves as the protagonist. He is a reserved but dignified man who values tradition and respectability.

Other supporting characters include his romantic interest, Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper, and a cast of townspeople who add depth to the story. As the audiobook progresses, we see these characters develop through their interactions with each other and with the world around them.

One of the strengths of the audiobook is its focus on character development. The interactions between Major Pettigrew and the other characters are rich and nuanced, providing insight into their personalities and motivations. The supporting characters are not mere window-dressing, but integral to the story.

Although the central conflict is romantic in nature, the audiobook also touches on themes of family, societal norms, and cultural divides. The character development is crucial in exploring these themes and allows the listener to relate to the characters on a deeper level.

Writing Style

Helen Simonson’s writing style in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a major contributor to the novel’s charm. Simonson employs elegant prose and witty dialogue to craft a captivating narrative. Her writing is both descriptive and emotive, often painting vivid pictures of characters and settings.

The dialogue in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is particularly noteworthy. Simonson brings her characters to life through distinct voices and clever banter. The novel’s many conversations are often laced with subtle humor and deeper meaning, making for a rich and engaging reading experience.

Simonson’s storytelling technique also stands out in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” She employs a third-person limited point of view, allowing readers to see the world through the eyes of her main character, Major Pettigrew. This narrative perspective adds depth to the story and offers readers a unique perspective on the events unfolding throughout the novel.

Overall, Helen Simonson’s writing style in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a delightful blend of humor, emotion, and intelligence. Her prose is both elegant and accessible, making the novel a pleasure to read for a variety of audiences.

Themes and Messages

cultural divides

In “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” Helen Simonson explores themes that resonate on both personal and universal levels. She delves into the complexities of love, family, societal norms, and cultural divides, challenging readers to examine their perceptions of these issues.

At its core, the audiobook is a celebration of human connection and the resilience of the human spirit. It highlights the importance of embracing diversity and empathizing with people from different cultures, while also acknowledging the challenges and conflicts that arise from these differences.

“Perhaps it is the greater challenge to embrace our differences rather than be overcome by them.”

The story of Major Pettigrew and his relationship with Mrs. Ali serves as a powerful metaphor for the struggle to bridge cultural divides. Through their interactions, Simonson highlights the role that empathy and understanding play in creating meaningful connections between people from different backgrounds.

Love and Family

One of the central themes in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is the nature of love and family. Simonson portrays love as complex and multifaceted, demonstrating how it manifests in different forms. Whether it be the love between two individuals, the love between family members, or the love for one’s heritage, the audiobook explores the many facets of this powerful emotion.

Additionally, Simonson tackles the topic of family, particularly the tensions that arise between different generations. Through the characters of Major Pettigrew and his son, Roger, she delves into the challenges faced by families as they navigate a changing world and grapple with issues of tradition, identity, and legacy.

Societal Norms and Expectations

Simonson also explores societal norms and expectations, particularly those related to gender and race. Through the character of Mrs. Ali, she highlights the challenges faced by women from minority communities as they attempt to navigate a predominantly white, male-dominated society.

The audiobook also addresses the broader issue of conformity and the pressure to conform to societal expectations. Simonson challenges readers to question the norms and values that they have been taught and to find the courage to stand up for what they believe in.

Audiobook Experience

Listening to an audiobook can create a whole new dimension to a story and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson is no exception. The narration quality of this audiobook is exceptional, with the voice actors capturing the essence of each character and bringing them to life.

The audiobook enhances the story through its dynamic narration, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in the world of Major Pettigrew. The listening experience is especially enjoyable during the dialogue exchanges between characters, as the voice actors bring nuance to each character’s individual voice and accent.

Overall, the audiobook version of “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a delightful and engrossing experience that enhances the already compelling story told by Helen Simonson.

Reception and Reviews

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” has received critical acclaim from readers and critics alike. Michael Upchurch from the Seattle Times calls it “a charming and clever novel that shows the best of British village life.” Similarly, The Guardian’s Stephanie Merritt remarks that the audiobook is “engaging and very funny, steeped in the traditions and behaviours of an older generation, but with a gentle progressive message”.

The novel has also been highly rated on Goodreads, with an average rating of 4.09 out of 5 from over 105,000 reviews. As of September 2021, the audiobook has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 on Audible, with many listeners praising the narration and performance of the voice actors.

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” has also garnered numerous awards and nominations, including the Galaxy National Book Award for Popular Fiction in 2010 and the Indies Choice Book Award for Best Indie Buzz Book (Fiction) in 2011. The novel’s critical acclaim and widespread popularity among readers make it a must-listen audiobook for anyone seeking a heart-warming and thought-provoking experience.

Comparison with the Book

When comparing the audiobook version of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand to the original book, it’s important to note the subtle changes that were made to adapt the story for audio format. One of the most noticeable differences is the narration. While the book is read at the reader’s own pace, the audiobook features a professional narrator who brings the story to life with their voice.

Another difference is the added dimension of sound effects. In the audiobook, listeners can hear the clinking of teacups and the rustling of clothing, making the setting and characters feel more vivid and realistic. However, some readers may prefer to imagine these details on their own while reading the book.

There are also slight variations in the pacing of the story. Some listeners may find that the audiobook moves faster due to the narration, while others may feel that it is slower because they cannot skim over parts they are less interested in.

Overall, the audiobook adaptation of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is well-done and enhances the reading experience with expert narration and sound effects. However, readers who enjoy imagining the story in their own minds may prefer the traditional book format.

Recommendation and Final Thoughts

Overall, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a charming and heartwarming audiobook that is sure to captivate listeners. The combination of Helen Simonson’s engaging storytelling and a fantastic narration make for an enjoyable listening experience.

For those who appreciate a well-written novel with complex characters and themes, this audiobook is a must-listen. It offers a glimpse into the struggles and triumphs of everyday life, and the power of love and friendship to overcome all obstacles.

While the pace of the story may be slow for some listeners, the rich descriptions and attention to detail create a vivid and immersive world that is hard to resist.

We highly recommend “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” to anyone looking for an entertaining and thought-provoking listen. It’s the perfect choice for anyone who loves a good audiobook and wants to explore a world of diverse characters and themes.

So, if you’re looking for your next great audiobook recommendation, look no further than “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” We guarantee it will leave you feeling uplifted, inspired, and thoroughly entertained.


Overall, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson is a charming and thought-provoking audiobook that is sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners. The plot is engaging, the characters are well-developed, and the writing style is immersive, making it easy to get lost in the story.

The themes and messages woven throughout the audiobook add an extra layer of depth and meaning, making it not only an enjoyable listen but also a thought-provoking one. And while the audiobook experience may not be to everyone’s taste, the narration quality and voice acting are top-notch, adding to the overall enjoyment of the story.

For those who enjoy character-driven stories with a touch of humor and romance, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is definitely worth checking out. And for those who have read the book, the audiobook offers a fresh perspective on the story, with some subtle differences that make it a worthwhile adaptation.

In conclusion, this audiobook review recommends “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” as a must-listen for fans of contemporary fiction and anyone looking for a heartwarming and meaningful story. With its relatable characters, charming setting, and insightful commentary on love and relationships, it’s a story that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


What is "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand" about?

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a captivating audiobook by Helen Simonson that follows the story of Major Ernest Pettigrew, a retired British officer. Set in a small English village, the book explores themes of love, friendship, and cultural differences as Major Pettigrew forms an unexpected bond with Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper. Together, they navigate societal norms, family expectations, and the challenges of love later in life.

Who is the author of "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand"?

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is written by Helen Simonson, an accomplished author known for her insightful storytelling and rich character development. With a background in literature and creative writing, Simonson brings depth and authenticity to her work.

What is the writing style of Helen Simonson in "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand"?

Helen Simonson’s writing style in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is eloquent and engaging. She intricately weaves together humor, wit, and emotional depth, creating a compelling narrative that captivates readers from start to finish.

What are the main themes explored in "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand"?

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” delves into various themes, including love, family, cultural divides, and the complexities of human relationships. The book sheds light on societal expectations, prejudices, and the power of connection amidst differences.

How does the audiobook enhance the reading experience of "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand"?

The audiobook version of “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” elevates the reading experience through the skillful narration by voice actors. The expressive performances bring the characters to life, adding depth and emotion to the story. Listening to the audiobook allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the world of Major Pettigrew and appreciate the nuances of the narrative.

How has "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand" been received by critics and readers?

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” has received widespread acclaim from both critics and readers. The audiobook has garnered positive reviews for its compelling story, well-drawn characters, and thought-provoking exploration of themes. It has been praised for its warmth, humor, and the seamless melding of different cultures.

How does the audiobook version of "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand" compare to the original book?

The audiobook version of “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” stays true to the original book, maintaining the charm and authenticity of the story. While there may be slight differences in the reading experience, the audiobook effectively captures the essence of the book and offers a delightful way to engage with the story.

Is "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand" recommended as an audiobook?

Absolutely! “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is highly recommended as an audiobook for its impeccable narration, rich storytelling, and compelling characters. Whether you are a fan of heartfelt stories, cultural exploration, or simply enjoy a well-crafted audiobook, this is a captivating choice that will leave a lasting impression.

What are the final thoughts on "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand" as an audiobook?

In conclusion, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a must-listen audiobook that beautifully combines humor, romance, and societal commentary. Helen Simonson’s impeccable writing, coupled with the stellar narration, makes for a truly enjoyable listening experience. This audiobook is sure to resonate with a wide range of listeners and leave them reflecting on the power of love and connection.

Leave a Reply