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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1906462024 ISBN-10: 190646202X Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books; Revised edition (December 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190646202X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906462024
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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".

From AudioFile

A bestseller in Britain when first published in 1938, this charming novel was recently adapted to film, starring Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, who here makes a rare audiobook appearance. It's about a dowdy governess who, stumbling into the employ of a freewheeling nightclub singer, undergoes a psychological makeover while putting some order into her charge's unruly existence. New to this type of performance, McDormand creates her own technique. Neither a narrator nor a storyteller, she's a character actor, a particularly fine one, who "plays" the book with considerable skill, imagination, and animation. Though her style is a little disjointed, it is singularly enjoyable. She gives a sweet bit of fluff distinction by virtue of her unique talent. Y.R. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

I first saw the movie and decided that I had to read the book.
P. Kemp
It is a great comic novel with bright dialogue, very English humor and characters who are three-dimensional.
E. Elliott
Highly recommended to those who love sweet, old fashioned books.
Angela Reads

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on March 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Winfired Watson's little 1938 fantasy has become the bestelling reissue for the terrific Persephone Books imprint in the UK, and its not hard to see why. Basically a Cinderella story set during the 30s, Watson's novel concerns a dowdy governess sent by mistake by her agency to the home of a glamorous and dithering nightclub singer, who comes to rely upon Miss Pettigrew to straighten out her love life. Miss Pettigrew not only rises to the challenge (much to her own surprise), but undergoes a makeover and finds some romance for her own life as well. While undeniably slim (and purposefully so), the novel is just about irresistible: it plays upon the same fantasy as Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK, the fantasy of being not only loved but also needed. Curiously, the trappings of glamour in this novel come not from the world of the wealthy and titled (as per usual in British fiction from this era, as in the novels of Waugh and Nancy Mitford) but from a world envisioned in American film: the world of night clubs, self-made men, and cocaine-dabbling gigolos.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Megan on February 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Okay, the premise sounds a little strange but this is my absolute favorite book. I've never mat anyone who read this book who did not immediately go out and buy it for their best friend or their mother or their daughter. Most Persephone books are wonderful, but this one is far and away the one to start with!

Miss Pettigrew is a dowdy governess who doesn't much like children and is down on her luck. She accidentally gets sent to the flat of a glamorous nightclub singer who is having all sorts of man trouble, which Miss Pettigrew promptly fixes with a combination of her wits and her totally common sense attitude about life.

It's a light and very easy read, definitely loose on the realism. But really, I promise that you will NOT regret it if you buy this book.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Ashes Sarrico on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's incredibly that untill recently, this book was hardly known about, much less considered an important book. This book is sweet and delightful and funny. The dialouge is memorable, and so are the pictures. I'd love to see this turned into a movie. But i think maybe its the sort of book that shouldv'e been turned into a movie in the 50's...it just wouldn't be right unless it was shot in that wonderfully grainy old film with 1950's conceits and that fat cat dialougue.

Anyways, the book is about this dowdy old lady who going to an interview as a nanny, but she's given the wrong adress and ends up at the house of Delsyia, a sweet aspiring actress with three lovers and who romps about in classic 1920's flapper style. Miss Pettigrew is detirmined to save her from the wicked cociane snorting possesive man and the career-advancing director and have her marry the good guy, and in the mean time, Miss Pettigrew gets a make-over, finds a beau, and has a little jazz and booze fun of her own. Its a really funny subversive little story told in a very touching way.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Audible Audio Edition
Fans of the Golden Age "grande dames" of detective fiction are oh-so-familiar with the young, fast set in 1930s London. Lord Peter Wimsey could talk "piffle" till the wee hours at clubs and parties, and Roderick Alleyn--until he met the artist Agatha Troy--was known to enjoy the company of actresses. These detectives were the creations of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, but their London came to life as a backdrop to the wildly popular books.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is by no means a crime novel, but it was written in 1938 by Winifred Watson, a contemporary of Sayers and Marsh. It was a best-seller in its day but went out of print until resurrected by Persephone Books, a London-based publisher of "neglected classics" from the 20th century. "Miss Pettigrew" was made into a movie, which I have not seen, in 2008.

Miss Pettigrew is a drab middle-aged spinster out of a job and looking for work as a governess (which she hates, being afraid of both the children and their parents). An agency sends her by mistake to the apartment of nightclub singer Delycia LaFosse. Miss LaFosse's personal affairs are in an uproar due to a surfeit of suitors, and Miss Pettigrew discovers in herself a talent for sorting out difficult situations. The day brings one situation after another and there is never a chance to inquire about the position. How does timid Miss Pettigrew find it in herself to send unsuitable young men packing and become the toast of cocktail parties and night clubs? Simple--she takes her inspiration from haughty former employers and of course from the movies she loves so much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Angela Reads on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the most 'delightful' book I've read since The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet. It's a Cinderella-type story of a spinster, Miss Pettigrew, who is one moment away from living in a workhouse or on the streets. She endeavors to get a job with a young lady of questionable morals. If she was not destitute, she would never associate herself with such a lady. The two women find that they have much to learn from each other; in fact, they need each other.

It's a story that I knew would end happily - yet I could not put it down because I wanted to know HOW everything would happen.

I'm giving it 5 stars because I know I would gladly re-read it some day. Highly recommended to those who love sweet, old fashioned books.
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