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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred…

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (original 1938; edition 2000)

by Winifred Watson

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Title:Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Authors:Winifred Watson
Info:Persephone Books Ltd (2000), Edition: Facsimile of 1938 ed, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (Author) (1938)


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English (100)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (102)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
"Men are awful," said Miss Dubarry miserably.
"I quite agree," said Miss Pettigrew.

Well, what's not to love about this book? It's a whirlwind of fun and adventure and romance. The rapid-fire dialogue is delicious. Puts me in mind of the dialogue in "His Girl Friday." What I wouldn't give to see this movie in early color starring Cary Grant as Michael, Irene Dunne as Delysia, K. Hepburn as Miss Dubarry, Clark Gable as Nick, and Agnes Moorehead as Miss Pettigrew.

"When you're over thirty-five," lectured Miss Dubarry, "make-up must be sparing. There's nothing worse than a middle-aged woman with too much make-up. It accentuates her age, not lessens it. Only a very young, unlined face can stand the lavish emphasis of too many cosmetics. The effect must be delicate, artistic, the possibility never strained that it can, after all, be natural, so that the beholder is left wondering which it is, art or nature."


I haven't watched the 2008 film yet. I will and I hope it does this delightful book justice. This is the sort of book where you turn the last page with a wistful smile, a misty eye, and deep, satisfying sigh. ( )
  libbromus | Oct 6, 2015 |
Everyone has their bad days. Guinevere Pettigrew has had a lengthy run of those. At the end of them, where we meet her in the beginning of Winifred Watson's 1938 novella, she's middle-aged, a poor governess (in all senses of the word poor), and is out of options. Determined to give it all one last shot, she goes on a last-chance job interview, and happens into what can only be called a glittery whirlwind of romance, hedonism and delight.

On what was to be the eve of World War II, the most popular novels of 1938 were tales of death and duty like The Yearling, The Citadel and Rebecca - about as depressing a collection as one could find. In contrast to these, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a near-subversive fantasy that dances and quips along like the Hollywood films of which Miss Pettigrew is so fond.

Upon meeting her would-be employer, Miss Delysia LaFosse (neé Sarah Grubb), Miss Pettigrew is immediately swept into Delysia's intrigues and many romances. In a single 24-hour period (the story is broken into chapters, denoted by time frames) Miss Pettigrew swears, drinks and takes delight in living, all for the very first time in her life. She is made-up and made-over by Delysia and dragged from party to party, all the while providing her employer with advise and a style of maternal friendship that Delysia has perhaps never experienced herself. It's a bit fantastical that both of these characters should be so generous and foolish all at once, but that's why it's a novel. Delysia is delightfully ditzy and grand in comparison to her new friend who, even without her muddy browns, can be so very grounding.

Published when it was, Watson could only have guessed at the declaration of war that would come only a year after its publication. As such, all of the characters leave the story in hopefulness with just a tinge of cautious sensibility. The film adaptation which was released in 2008, however, had the benefit of hindsight. Knowing what came next, the film treats Guinevere and Joe as not just contemporaries, but twin survivors of the first World War who are wary of the future, but together. In both versions - though more so in the film - they serve as an anchor for the rest of the party who, but for them, would likely float away - a beautiful careless glittering in the night sky. ( )
  laurscartelli | May 31, 2015 |
I spent an utterly delightful afternoon reading this sweet and generous book. ( )
  KAzevedo | Apr 24, 2015 |
What a lovely book. I would say that this is chick lit avant la lettre :-)

Usually I dislike books like this, all female chatter, nothing much to it. As a matter of fact I do not get why it is on that list, apart from being a very early chick lit or for giving a very good description of the life of women in these times, although the book only covers nearly 24 hours out of the life of its characters.
I like miss Pettigrew a lot, better than the other two female characters. But, if it weren't for them, miss Pettigrew wouldn't be 'living' even it is just for one day.

Till the end of chapter 14 I had no idea where things were going. Seeing the part if the book that's still to-be-read get thinner and thinner, I was truly wondering, whether miss Pettigrew would ever ask the question she went to miss LaFosse's place for early that day.

This lighthearted book has really brightened my day :-) ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 30, 2015 |
If P.G. Wodehouse decided to take a shot at writing a fairytale, I think this book is what would've resulted. It's light-hearted and full of quirky characters that keep things moving at a whirlwind pace. I borrowed this from the library but I have plans to buy a copy for myself. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Watson, WinifredAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDormand, FrancesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomson, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Twycross-Martin, HenriettaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Miss Pettigrew pushed open the door of the employment agency and went in as the clock struck a quarter past nine.
In a dull, miserable existence her one wild extravagance was her weekly orgy at the cinema, where for over two hours she lived in an enchanted world peopled by beautiful women, handsome heroes, fascinating villains, charming employers, and there were no bullying parents, no appalling offspring to tease, torment, terrify, harry her every waking hour.
What dangerous den of vice had she discovered? She must fly before she lost her virtue. Then her common sense unhappily reminded her that no one, now, would care to deprive her of that possession.
A knock on Miss LaFosse's door heralded adventure. It was not like an ordinary house, where the knocker would be the butcher, or baker or candlestick-maker. A knock on Miss LaFosse's door would mean excitement, drama, a new crisis to be dealt with. Oh, if only for once the Lord would be good and cause some miracle to happen to keep her here, to see for one day how life could be lived, so that for all the rest of her dull, uneventful days, when things grew bad, she could look back in her mind and dwell on the time when for one perfect day, she, Miss Pettigrew, lived.
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
She was not fifty yet, but some day she would be, with no home, no friends, no husband, no children. She had lived a life of spartan chastity and honour. She would still have no home or memories. Miss LaFosse would reach fifty some day. Suppose she reached it equally without home and friends. What then? How full would her memories be?
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French title is "Cette Sacree Vertu"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 190646202X, Paperback)

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'

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Miss Pettigrew, a governess looking for work, is sent by mistake to the home of Delysia LaFosse, a glamorous nightclub singer involved with three different men and is invited to stay after offering Miss LaFosse common sense advice about her love life.… (more)

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