Tuesday, February 24, 2009

REVIEW: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson. Originally published 1938. This edition 2008 by Persephone Books. Literary Fiction.

I picked up Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day after seeing the movie of the same name, which came out last year. The movie was delightful- sunshine on the screen. The book is sunshine on the page.

Miss Pettigrew is the story of a poor single woman, Guenivere Pettigrew, in 1930s England who is having trouble finding work. She ends up, quite by accident, in the employ of one Delysia LaFosse, a gorgeous, bubbly young actress who needs someone to keep her head on straight and her boyfriends at bay. As we watch her bumble her way through a thicket of romantic entanglements, we wonder, which man will Delysia end up with? Will Miss Pettigrew be cast out on to the streets? What will become of either woman?

First of all, if you've seen the movie and you want to read the book, be aware that there are some differences between the two. The filmmakers took license to create dramatic situations in the movie that don't exist in the book, and certain characters that barely merit a mention in the book are major players in the movie. The book also has some drug references absent from the film. But you'll recognize it nonetheless- the premise is the same, and Miss Pettigrew and Delysia, Delysia's dilemma, and the romantic entanglements, and the story's slapstick humor and pacing, remain the same.

The story is told hour by hour from Miss Pettigrew's point of view, and recited in a delicious, delightful period voice that captures the heady chaos of Delysia's and Miss Pettigrew's life. As the hours tick by, we see Miss Pettigrew change from a shy mouse who feels like an impostor and believes herself unworthy of love, to a more confident woman who just might be ready to change her life. Delysia learns that she deserves more too, and these transformations- and the sweet friendship between the two women- are what makes this Cinderella story so wonderful. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a delight from start to finish. As I came to the end I actually teared up a little at Miss Pettigrew's happy ending. You will, too!

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.