Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day


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Miss Pettigrew is about a governess sent by an employment agency to the wrong address, where she encounters a glamorous night-club singer, Miss LaFosse. 'The sheer fun, the light-heartedness' in this wonderful 1938 book 'feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anything else' comments the Preface-writer Henrietta Twycross-Martin, who found Miss Pettigrew for Persephone Books. The Guardian asked: 'Why has it taken more than half a century for this wonderful flight of humour to be rediscovered?' while the Daily Mail liked the book's message - 'that everyone, no matter how poor or prim or neglected, has a second chance to blossom in the world.' Maureen Lipman wrote in 'Books of the Year' in the Guardian: 'Perhaps the most pleasure has come from Persephone's enchanting reprints, particularly Miss Pettigrew, a fairy story set in 1930s London'

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781906462024
Publisher: Persephone Books
Publication date: 12/31/2008
Series: Persephone Classics
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 191,420
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Winifred Watson (1907-2002) lived in Newcastle and wrote six novels in all; she chose to stop writing after the birth of her son in 1941. The Times interviewed her at age 94 when Persephone Books reissued the book in 2000. The headline was "Bodice-Ripping Fame at 94".

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
adreadne More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is an excellent book. It captures the characters and makes the reader feel that they are part of the story. The author gives the reader a sense that even people who are not normally considered brilliant or successful will be able to make a success of their lives. Miss Pettigrew is certainly a character that most readers will realte to and find themselves cheering for her tenacity and bold moves that take advantage of the situation into which she is placed by accident.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delight! Miss Pettigrew is a middle-aged governess, unmarried, and part Cinderella, part Mary Poppins. One day, her employment agency sends her to Miss Delysia LaFosse, ostensibly to fill an open place. On arrival, Miss Pettigrew finds Miss LaFosse, a night club singer, trying to deal with an unwanted male visitor. Miss Pettigrew surprises everyone, including herself, by successfully getting rid of the gentleman. And from that point on, she can do no wrong in Miss LaFosse's eyes.Miss Pettigrew is forty-ish, unmarried, and entirely dependent on employers for her room and board. Miss LaFosse's lifestyle is foreign and exciting, as are her relationships with men. Despite her success ousting unwelcome suitors, Miss Pettigrew is completely inexperienced in the art of romance, and even the most basic beauty rituals:Miss Pettigrew stared at her blankly. Her mind was whirling: her thoughts chaotic. A mental upheaval rendered her dizzy. Yes, why? All these years and she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose. Others had experienced that joy. Never she. And all because she lacked courage. All because she had never thought for herself. Powder, thundered her father the curate, the road to damnation. Lipstick, whispered her mother, the first step on the downward path. Rouge, fulminated her father, the harlot's enticement. Eyebrow pencil, breathed her mother, no lady ... ! (p. 73)She's also very proper:"I've never sworn in my life before," wailed Miss Pettigrew.... "But I didn't hear you swear," consoled Miss LaFosse."You must have been too upset. I said 'damned' and 'hell' and meant them ... that way.""Oh!" said Miss LaFosse with a reassuring beam. "They're not swear words. They're only expressions." (p. 45)Over the course of a single day, Miss Pettigrew comes to the aid of Miss LaFosse and her friends in countless ways. And they teach her a thing or two as well, giving her a makeover and whisking her away on their evening adventures. As the clock advanced into the evening, it appeared Cinderella's coach might turn back into a pumpkin, and Miss Pettigrew would once again find herself destitute and alone. But Winifred Watson takes the story in a different direction, one that is simultaneously predictable and enormously satisfying.This book was real treat. And while it was my first Persephone Classic, I have a feeling it won't be my last.
kmjolley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simply and exquisitely fun. Better than the movie as you'd expect (but the movie was good, too).
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is middle-aged, prim and proper, and out of a job. She has experience as a governess, but the employment agency sends her to an interview to be a maid to a nightclub singer, Ms. LaFosse, who is beautiful and dramatic and attracts many handsome and dangerous men. Miss P is drawn into the excitement and feels like she is truly living for the first time in her life. Lovely, delightful book and a quick read.
Goldengrove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charming bit of fluff. I think I enjoyed the film more than the book, for it's glorious sets. Also the film neatly missed out the casual anti-semitism - an interesting historical truth in the book, but disturbing. There is a prevailing assumption that if a woman is being 'silly' then the man who really loves her is quite justified in giving her a jolly good shake to bring her to her senses. This was not included in the film either - aren't you glad you live now and not in the 1930s girls?
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is desperate. She needs a job - any job - and she needs one today. So she arrives at Miss LaFosse's apartment, determined to please her prospective employer. But instead of the maiden aunt she is expecting, she meets a beautiful nightclub singer. Before she has a chance to protest or explain, she is thrust into the decadent life of Bright Young Things. To her surprise, she fits right in and finds herself enjoying her new surroundings.This book is a lot of fun. I laughed out loud in several spots, especially at the cocktail party. Very entertaining.
strandbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fun, sweet, cute book, which reminded me of the 1930's romantic comedies. An out of work middle-aged governess, Miss Pettigrew, is plopped into high society--wealthy, show/nightclub, racy, new money types--and through a variety of mishaps fixes everyone's lives in a day. It is a twist on the Cinderella story that is pretty enjoyable.Yet I don't understand why it is on the 1001 books to read before you die list. There is no character development as it is all about the funny plot. It was a popular book when published, and when it is read now readers get a sense of nostalgia for these witty people with their silly antics. This is the first 1001 book I read that I questioned the publisher. There are many I've disliked, but I can see their worth. If the publisher thinks it shows a mentality of readers at a certain time/place by popular choice of literature, then I guess it is understandable...but they why isn't Dean Koontz and Danielle Steel on the list? I don't think this is the purpose of the 1001 list, yet I wouldn't say it was a waste of time to read Miss Pettigrew. She provided a fun escape, and I finished it in a few hours.
pt1208 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie before reading the book. Frances Dormand and Amy Adams portrayed such interesting characters I wanted to read the book. I bought - and it was way too expensive, but I thoroughly enjoyed it - even more than the movie.
dawnlovesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
delightful and charming little book. love the drawings that are included. a cinderalla story for a lonely, middle-aged woman. one day changes the rest of her life. i caught myself smiling many times while reading this book. loved the characters!!!
SheReadsNovels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been described as a romantic comedy, a fairy tale and a Cinderella fantasy - and it's all of those things and more. It tells the story of Guinevere Pettigrew, a timid middle-aged governess. When her employment agency accidentally send her to the wrong address, she finds herself at the home of the beautiful young actress and singer, Miss LaFosse. Waiting for the right moment to tell Miss LaFosse that she thinks there's been a mistake, and realising that her new friend needs her help, Miss Pettigrew is swept into a glamorous world of night clubs and cocktail parties - and to her surprise, discovers that she's enjoying every minute of it!I found Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day very easy to read, and with the entire story taking place in a day, it moved along at a fast pace. The perfect choice if you're in the mood for something light hearted, fun and frivolous. Although it didn't immediately become a favourite book, it was a lively, entertaining read full of amusing scenes and witty dialogue that made me smile.Although the book was written in the 1930s and does have a certain old fashioned charm, it still has a lot of relevance. I'm sure we'd all love to have a day like Miss Pettigrew's where all our dreams comes true and we finally do all the things we've never been brave enough to do before.As a side note, I really loved the illustrations in this book! It's always nice to see illustrations and these beautiful drawings by Mary Thomson really added something extra to the story and helped bring the scenes to life.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew made my day!Guinevere Pettigrew has never sworn¿not even in her own head. She¿s never told a black lie, and precious few white ones. And she¿s never been kissed. Miss Pettigrew is a lady. Alas, she¿s a down on her luck lady, currently between positions as a governess, and times are hard. It is with no small amount of desperation that she knocks at the address the employment agency supplied for an interview. After about five minutes of steady rapping, the door is flung open by a somewhat frenzied young woman in a negligée. Without so much as stopping to ask who she is, the woman breathlessly drags Miss Pettigrew into her drama-filled life. Her immediate goal is to ease her lover out the door gracefully before her other lover arrives. So begins a whirlwind romance¿a romance between the older, wiser, but frightfully insecure Miss Pettigrew and the kind-hearted but flighty Delysia LaFloss, actress and nightclub singer.Readers who saw the 2008 film of Winifred Watson¿s obscure comedy, first published in 1938, may remember the opening I described. But after the first couple of scenes, the details of the novel diverge. What remains the same is the spirit of the tale, the absolutely heart-warming characters, and the delightful humor. I was amazed at how well the comedy held up. This book could have been written today¿with one big caveat¿Simply put, 1938 was a different time, and it was more than a little jarring when these wonderful, winning characters would suddenly come out with something astonishingly racist or anti-Semitic. It happens several times, and at one point the charming male lead suggests the adorable female lead might be in need of some ¿physical correction¿ occasionally. You can¿t ignore it, but you must overlook it. It was a different time.And despite that one big caveat, this is a novel I have fallen head over heals in love with. You will be praying just as fervently as Miss Petigrew for the doorbell to ring just one more time, and to see what adventure lies around the next corner. For Miss Petigrew, until now, has had a sad, lonely life. She starts the day somewhat rigid and judgmental, and watching her grow and blossom as the chapters count down the hours of one extraordinary day ¿24¿ style is a joy that no reader should be denied.I actually listened to Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as an unabridged audio book. It was read to perfection by Frances McDormand, the actress who brought Miss Pettigrew to life in the film. Her affection for the material must equal my own; I could hear the smile in her voice. In some ways, the novel reminds me of a racier, feminist counterpart to P.G. Wodehouse¿s beloved Wooster and Jeeves tales. All I know is that this is the book I¿m going to pull from the shelf the next time I¿m in need of a pick-me-up. And I¿m going to spend the next several decades haunting used book stores searching for an illustrated copy from the thirties. Miss Pettigrew has joined the ranks of my all-time favorites.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is a refined, out-of-work governness who deparately needs a job. When she goes to interview for an open position with Miss LaFosse, there is no mention of a job. Instead, Miss Pettigrew is pulled into a series of events that are far from her usual routine. Miss LaFosse is a nightclub singer with three boyfriends. She soon finds that Miss Pettigrew is extremely resourceful in helping her address the problems that arise during the course of her typical day, which boosts Miss Pettigrew's confidence and encourages her to state her mind all the more. I fell in love with Miss Pettigrew from the first page of the book, and thus fell in love with Miss LaFosse and her friends because of their kindness to Miss Pettigrew. I laughed out loud at their escapades, cheered everytime Miss Pettigrew resolved a problem, and felt deeply happy as everything worked out just as it should by the last page. This is a charming and delightful book!
charbutton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is frumpy and middle-aged and finding it harder and harder to gain employment as a governess in 1930s London. One morning she is mistakenly sent to a potential job at the flat of Miss Delysia La Fosse (real name Sarah Grubb), a nightclub singer and 'it girl' who has a very complicated love life. Miss Pettigrew is immediately drawn into Delysia's affairs, preventing one boyfriend from finding out about his rivals and earning the younger woman's eternal gratitude. For the next 24 hours Miss Pettigrew leaves her drab life behind and is caught up in a whirl of the high life.Although well-written, there is no depth to any of the characters save for our eponymous heroine. The story is carried through dialogue and action, not thought and reflection. Which is fine, but wasn't quite enough for me. I wanted to know more about how Delysia got to where she did and whether she was actually as feather-brained as she seemed. So a pleasant read, but probably not something I will go back to.
Lesliejaneite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delight this book was. I knew it would be lighthearted and fun. I was right. I love all the details that only women understand, like the clothes, jewelry, hairstyles, makeup and shoes. These are delivered in abundance in Miss Pettigrew. All the characters are endearing, especially Miss Pettigrew herself who is so sweet and has had such a long, dull, miserable life untill the day she accidentally met Miss LaFosse. She has a wonderful exciting day handling the man problems of Miss LaFosse and her friends. She gets a makeover, attends her first cocktail party and makes herself indispensable to all in a variety of amusing situations. The ending is vastly different than the movie (which was also wonderful) and is sure to please those of us whose hearts flutter over a properly happy ending. This book is a pleasure and made me smile "out loud" more than once. I will certainly read it again
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charming and breezy, Winifred Watson's "Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day" is essentially a 1930's beach book. Miss Pettigrew is a frumpy and dull London governess who is searching for a new position when she has a chance meeting with Delysia LaFosse and her troop of beautiful people. Liquor-soaked parties, silk underwear and a bit of face paint open up Miss Pettigrew's world as this delightful book unfolds. The story is told in such a sweet and lighthearted way, I just couldn't put it down.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an absolutely delightful read! It's marvelously refreshing to have a proper lady do properly unladylike actions and still remain proper! Despite risqué scenes, shocking behaviours and an imbroglio of relationships, this book remains sweet, moving and inspiring. We can all hope to be as straightforward and modest as Miss Pettigrew, to seize the day with her composure and truthfulness and to be rewarded for fairness of mind with a touch of apropos and humour. The book maintains its freshness and lightness throughout and, despite the happy ending, only hints at the fairy tale that may lie ahead - no false promises or hasty conclusions there! The illustrations are a lovely touch - why shouldn't adults enjoy a picture book? Enchanting and heartwarming.
piemouth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A charming novel written in the 30s about a governess who is sent by mistake to apply for a job as a lady's maid for a singer. The singer immediately takes her into her confidence and Miss Pettigrew spends the next 24 hours helping the lovely artiste and her friends with their love lives, being made over and being surprised at her own attractiveness, going to a party and night club, and emerging with a new life. The original pen and ink drawings add to the appeal.Be warned: Since it's written in the 30s there are references to a man not being a suitable husband because he has traces of Jew, and an Italian not being fit to be in the room with a white woman.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be quite mediocre. In a lot of ways it's simply just early-century chick lit - a frumpy woman finds her inner power and is transformed into a swan, topped off by meeting the man of her dreams and having her life forever changed.Add on to that the pretty jarring Antisemitism and outdated notions of gender roles (women only want he-men who will beat them and fight off other suitors!), and I walked away with a definite sensation that the whole novel was just very lackluster.Of course, there were some charming moments when Miss Pettigrew finds her feet and manages to pull off some nervy feats of insolence, but overall it was just so dreadfully clichéd. The most interesting thing I found in the whole novel was all the Sapphic imagery, but that doesn't even count since it was entirely unintentional.
nicole47 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I read it after having seen the movie. I think it's an example of a book that works well as a book, but the changes they made to the movie made the movie a better movie. The movie is tighter and combines many characters and plots, which works very well in the shorter movie format. Overall, of course, I like the book better. It's a bit sweeter and more optimistic, even though the movie is also life-affirming. There's just more people to like in the book.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is just utterly charming. A frazzled governess responds to a job posting only to find herself thrown into a world of glitz and glamour. She¿s quickly caught up in the beautiful, but irresponsible Delysia LaFosse¿s crazy life. Multiple suitors, beautiful gowns, and drinks at all hours of the day leave Miss Pettigrew in a happy haze. She¿s overwhelmed at first, but the decides to savor every moment; each drink, every bite of ice cream and the feel of her luxurious borrowed velvet dress. After a life of ordinary years, she's embracing this extraordinary day. The thing that made this book work so well for me is Miss Pettigrew herself. She is so sweet and sincere, but she¿s also completely baffled be the situation she¿s stumbled upon. She's completely out of place in this foreign social scene but she's also delighted by it. Even though she's only known Miss LaFosse for a few hours, she's becomes a loyal and protective friend. Her innocence also allows her to be more upfront than others are. She answers questions with a stark honesty that¿s both startling and refreshing to her new friends. I love that she discovers she has an unexpected streak of spunk and she¿s a bit saucy. The supporting characters, especially Joe, were all so much fun. Michael, Nick, Phil, Miss Dubarry and Tony, we meet them all over the course of one day in Miss Pettigrew¿s life. My lovely Persephone edition has small illustrations that made the book even more enjoyable. It¿s a quick read and felt like the literary equivalent of drinking champagne, all bubbling bliss. There are a few incredibly racist lines (aka don¿t marry him, he looks a bit Jewish and you should stick to your own kind), but for a novel published on the 1930s that's pretty normal. It still makes me sad every time I come across it though. What stupid prejudices we develop as a society. The story of how the book came to be back in print is just as wonderful as the novel itself. One woman¿s mother introduced her to the book at a young age. She took it with her to college, lent it to a friend and eventually recommended it to Persephone as a potential book for their new collection. She was then hired to write the introduction and while researching the author, she realized the 93-year-old woman was still alive and she had the chance to meet and interview her! What a testament to the impact a book can have on a single individual. If not for that woman¿s love of the book, I may never have had the chance to read it. You never know where the journey of reading a new book will take you. I was left wondering what other literary gems have fallen by the wayside over the years. I'm grateful for publishers like Persephone for trying to bring some great ones back into circulation. ¿`Then you don¿t believe the wedding-bells should sound like closing-time?¿ asked Michael with rising spirits. `Though an outside observer, I¿ve been on the inside of many marriages. This old-fashioned idea of settling down on marriages,¿ lectured Miss Pettigrew carefully, `is quite right in its way, as long as the right couple settles down together. But if the right couple don¿t wish to settle down, they do not cease to be right.¿¿ ¿Miss Pettigrew felt the most glorious, exhilarating sensation of excitement she had ever experienced, `This,¿ thought Miss Pettigrew, `is Life. I have never lived before.¿
iammbb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad that "they" turned this book into a movie.If not for the movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I'm thinking that this book, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, might have never crossed my radar.And that would have been a shame.The book better conveys Guinevere Pettigrew's internal turmoil and uncertainty than the movie (don't books always do so?) and there are character and plot differences between the two which serve both equally well.Watson charmingly describes the trepidation and elation with which the poor, desperate Miss Pettigrew gets caught up in the social whirlwind of Miss LaFosse.All of that and happy endings all around, too!
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is a penniless governess out of work, when her employment agency sends her to fill a post as governess at the home of Miss Delysia LaFosse. But when she arrives, everything is turned on its head as Miss Pettigrew finds herself living in glamour for the first time in her life. Along the way, she helps out a few new-found friends, attends several glamorous parties, and finds herself being ¿not quite herself.¿The description of the book on Amazon is that this is a kind of modern day (1930s) Cinderella tale¿which it certainly is. It¿s a very charming, witty, and eccentric book, one that I enjoyed immensely. There are also a series of illustrations inside, which add to the magic of this very special little book.
dieseltaylor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Superb. Just a delight to read.
jaimjane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a funny and utterly charming book. It is also illustrated.
Nikkles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Pettigrew is a wonderfully funny and inspiring book. It just makes you feel good. The characters are all very well developed for such a short book that moves rather quickly through one day and you really pull for all the characters happiness. It goes to show that a good story about life will ring true no matter when it was written. I must recommend the book highly. My copy also has the original drawing in it, which are fantastic and really add to the 30s vibe when reading the book.