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

4.5 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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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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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story takes place in a different time and setting than I usually read, but I found it rather refreshing, especially since this was written as a contemporary piece instead of the usual historical fiction I see. It was beautifully contrived, with lovely writing and a fascinating premise and well executed plot. And being written before England entered WWII puts an interesting perspective on life during this time.

Miss Pettigrew was an interesting mix of contradiction and a stark contrast to Delysia and her anything goes crowd. I would by no means this book a sort of moral compass, but I did love Miss Pettigrew opening herself up to new experiences and ideas. This allows her to decide things for herself and stop depending on the morality forced upon her by others. She finally got to become more herself and less what she was told to be. A sort of universal human struggle, we can relate too.

Because of its time period I was a little taken a back my by the language, but I did quickly adapt, but it should be noted that there are a couple of blatantly racist parts that really threw me. I will make no excuses for them, and only mention them as something to be aware of.

I also really adored the movie with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, but the book and movie should really be treated as two separate things and not the book coming to life on the big screen.

For the full review and others visit whymsylikesbooks dot blogspot dot com
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams and was curious about the late 1930's book it was based on. There are a number of differences between the two that can easily be accounted for by the differences between writing a book and making a movie. However, although this entertaining tale of a 40 plus wallflower who by accident conquers fashionable London society is way ahead of its time in its ideas about gender, it contains a few pretty nasty bigotry and ethnic slurs against Jews and Italians, which, of course, were completely dropped by the movie makers.
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