1. In the outset of Major Pettigrew's Last
Stand, the Major is described as feeling the
weight of his age, but the morning after his romantic evening with
Mrs. Ali at Colonel Preston's Lodge, Simonson writes that "a
pleasant glow, deep in his gut, was all that remained of a night
that seemed to have burned away the years from his back." Love is
not only for the young and, as it did the Major, it has the
capacity to revitalize. Discuss the agelessness of love, and how it
can transform us at any point in our lives.
2. A crucial theme of Major Pettigrew's Last
Stand is that of obligation. What are the
differences between the Pettigrews' familial expectations and those
of the Alis'? What do different characters in the novel have to
sacrifice in order to stay true to these obligations? What do they
give up in diverging from them?
3. Major Pettigrew clings to the civility of a bygone era, and
his discussions with Mrs. Ali over tea are a narrative engine of
the book and play a central role in their burgeoning romance. In
our digital world, how have interpersonal relationships changed? Do
you think instant communication makes us more or less in touch with
the people around us?
4. Much of the novel focuses on the notion of "otherness." Who
is considered an outsider in Edgecombe St. Mary? How are the
various village outsiders treated differently?
5. First impressions in Major Pettigrew's Last
Stand can be deceiving. Discuss the progressions
of the characters you feel changed the most from the beginning of
the book to the end.
6. The Major struggles to find footing in his relationship with
his adult son, Roger. Discuss the trickiness of being a parent to
an adult child, and alternatively, an adult child to an aging
parent. How does the generation gap come to impact the
7. Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali connect emotionally in part
because they share the experience of having lost a spouse, and in
part because they delight in love having come around a second time.
How do you think relationships formed in grief are different from
those that are not?
8. For Major Pettigrew, the Churchills represent societal
standing and achievement, as well as an important part of his
family's history. However, as events unfold, the Major begins to
question whether loyalty and honor are more important than material
objects and social status. Discuss the evolving importance of the
guns to the Major, as well as the challenge of passing down
important objects, and values, to younger generations.