Sunday, January 3, 2010

MIss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 
Winifred Watson, 1938, 234 pages

She prayed desperately for a knock on the door. A knock on Miss LaFosse's door heralded adventure. It was not like an ordinary house, when 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 there, to see for one day how ilfe could be lived, so that for all the rest of her dull, uneventful days, when things grew bad, she could look back and in her mind and dwell on the time when for one perfect day she, Miss Pettigrew, lived.

This reimagining of a Cinderella story featuring the spinster Miss Pettigrew was hilarious and a charming read. This quote pretty much sums up this incredibly entertaining book. The gist is that Miss Pettigrew is an out of work governess in London, who goes to see Delysia LaFosse for a job but ends up getting sucked into her world instead, helping Delysia juggle the three men in her life, successfully navigating among the elite, and experiencing the wonders of both alcohol and flirting for the first time.

I read this book because the movie is really good, and the book didn't disappoint. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, though, that every time I read one of Delysia's lines, I heard Amy Adams' voice, ditto Miss Pettigrew, Edythe, Michael, etc. That's never actually happened before that I can remember, but it definitely greatly increased my enjoyment of the book. I'm not sure if I would have appreciated the humor and other interactions as much if I didn't have those voices saying their lines in my head.

That being said, there were some parts of the book that I liked that weren't featured in the movie. The repartee between Miss Pettigrew and Tony, a character who I believe is absent from the movie, were one of my favorite things about the book. Most things are excellent in both, however. Miss Pettigrew's transformation from sparkling spinster to society hit, including her shock at the world of Delysia along with her quick thinking that helps save Delysia on more than one occasion, is delightful to observe both in the book and the movie. 

This book was a super quick read, I read it in a matter of hours, and its one of those books that I'll go back to and reread again and again for its charm and hijinx. I honestly can't say whether I liked the book or movie better, because the movie completely informed my reading of the book, and I'm sure if I rewatch it I'll enjoy it all the more for having read the book. Oh well. Overall, a completely satisfying read.


  1. Glad you posted. I saw the movie when it first came out and enjoyed it. I never even realized there was a book! It'll definitely be added to my TBR list.

  2. This is a fun read. If you enjoyed it you should check out The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It's not the same, but is similar in a lot of ways. :) Also, another good one is Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson

  3. I recently watched the movie (which I liked but didn't love)and wondered how it compared to the book. Thanks for your thoughts on both of them.

  4. I read the book WAY before the movie and loved it - I think the film did a great job of capturing the whimsy of the book, but there was a lot in the book that was missed out and personally I prefer the original source! If you liked Miss Pettigrew, you should read The Making of a Marchioness, it's fairly similar...oh, I've just seen someone else has recommended I heartily agree with them!