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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone…

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics) (original 1938; edition 2008)

by Winifred Watson

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Title:Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)
Authors:Winifred Watson
Info:Persephone Books (2008), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Favorites
Tags:Read 2011, Humour, Aging, 1930s, England: London

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


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English (118)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY follows a middle-aged governess on her first day as she takes on a new charge - the nightclub singer Delysia LaFosse. Miss Gwenivere Pettigrew has lived her entire life according to what a "lady" does and does not do. As a result, she is lonely, poor, frumpy, deathly bored, and entirely unsatisfied.

In the 24 hours she spends with Miss LaFosse, Miss Pettigrew begins to experience modern life for all that it has to offer. She attends parties, receives a makeover, experiences romance, and meets people from very different social stratagem. Because she is older than Delysia, Miss Pettigrew can offer her a more mature and grounded perspective on social situations, and her advice comes in handy on multiple occasions.

There is quite a transformation in Miss Pettigrew, and the story can seem very much like a modern day fairy tale. The book is certainly not based on real life, and the heightened emotions and actions of the characters make for a rather enchanting read. The most significant drawback to the story is that modern audiences may take offense to certain aspects of it. For example, Miss Pettigrew has a certain prejudice against Jewish people, which she states outright. Also, the book does not really hold up to a feminist reading. The ways that Miss Pettigrew gains confidence and takes control of her life are primarily through the influence of looser morals, alcohol, a makeover, and better clothes.

This book is a fun, plot-driven, quick read. I devoured it in two sittings. It's certainly a product of its time, but is highly worth your reading time. ( )
  BooksForYears | Jul 23, 2016 |
As much as I enjoyed this story I found the 1930's vintage sexism and anti-semitism jarring. It's a delightful romantic comedy all the same. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This may be Guinevere Pettigrew’s last chance. As an unmarried, 40-year old, out-of-luck governess living in London, she is one day away from being turned out on the street with nowhere to go. A mix-up at the employment agency sends her to door of Delysia LaFosse, a young and beautiful night club entertainer, rather than the family with small children to tend that she was expecting. But what at first appears to be a horrible mistake turns out to be anything but as Miss Pettigrew quickly becomes immersed in Miss LaFosse’s fascinating and complicated social circle. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Miss Pettigrew will experience more situations and emotions than she has in her whole life and will finally realize that fairy tales really can come true!

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day is a breezy and cheerful novel that actually reads more like the script for a farcical stage play or one of those great screwball comedy movies that were so popular in the 1930s and 1940s. It has often been portrayed as a retelling of the Cinderella folk-tale and there are certainly enough similarities in this story to warrant that comparison. Like most fairy tales, however, there is no deep, hidden message here—just a lot of improbable plot twists with a bunch of likeable characters exchanging witty banter. Ultimately, this is a book that does not try to be anything more than a sweet and satisfying dreams-can-come-true tale for one deserving woman, which is exactly what it ends up being. ( )
  browner56 | Jun 23, 2016 |
A perfect grown-up fairytale. The movie is fantastic too. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

3 stars
The story was light, sweet, humorous and entertaining. Miss Pettigrew goes to apply for what she thinks is a governess position and gets caught up in the life styles of the rich and famous. I can see why the book became popular when it was published in 1938. It’s fun and I’m sure it provided as nice an escape then as it does now. I do not understand why something so trivial was included in the 1001 books list. It is not that innovative and it is not great literature.
This is also a rare case in which I liked the movie better than the book. The movie added more depth to all of the characters and in particular to Miss Pettigrew by depicting the dire conditions of the Depression and the impending war with Germany.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Watson, WinifredAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDormand, FrancesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo Fort, IsabelTranslatorsecondary 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)

(summary from another edition)

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