Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Posted 24 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 12 Comments

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
By: Winifred Watson
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

I first read this novel some 4 years ago. I had watched the movie adaptation before that, starring Amy Adams and Frances McDormand, and was positively charmed by the movei, so I wanted to read the book. I think I was working on something for grad school because I never got around to writing a review for it here. I was in the mood for something lighter to read recently and decided that a re-read was in order πŸ™‚

This book is part of the A Year in Re-Reading: a 2014 Reading Challenge that I am participating in.

Just as the first time, I thought the novel was fast-paced, funny, and charming. Guinevere Pettigrew, after a mix-up at the agency leading her to Delysia Lafosse’s doorstep, over the course of the day is introduced to the high society life, of glitz and glamour and comfort, things she did not experience in her day-to-day life. It’s quite Cinderella in a way, how Delysia brings her to the fold, dresses her up and takes her to fancy parties and introduces a bit of fun and glamour into Guinevere’s life (and even catches the attention of a rich entrepreneur!). But in many ways, Guinevere also works as a fairy godmother to Delysia, saving her from some really close encounters and working a bit of magic with Delysia’s love woes using her common sense and unique perspective. It’s quite funny how she confuses people at times, but it’s all quite endearing; I love how in many ways she serves as our look into Delysia’s lifestyle, her observations very astute. Over the course of a day Guinevere learns a lot about life and interacting with people and changes into a more confident person.

There was one thing about this novel that didn’t entirely sit well with me the first time and it didn’t change with a re-read: the men in Delysia’s life weren’t so great. Like, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose any of them. Michael is supposed to be the guy that’s best of Delysia, and while there is no doubt of his love for her, his temper was rather unsettling, and detracts my attention from the good qualities that Guinevere sees in him. In this respect, I much prefer the movie because it highlights his good qualities too.

Minus that one issue, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was just as delightful as I remembered it to be. I’ve mentioned this book a few times on various lists but I highly recommend this title if you’re looking for a light read or if you’re a fan of books by Jane Austen and other classics.

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author from Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

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12 Responses to “Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”

    • I totally understand! For the most part, the movie was pretty faithful to the book (just started condensing things halfway). What’s really nice about the book is that it shows who else Miss Pettigrew helped over the course of the day, which was pretty cool πŸ™‚

  1. I saw this book on your list of Jane Austen-themed recommendations! I’d been wanting to read the book anyway but that spurred me on – so thank you! *fist bump* πŸ˜€

    Now I’ve read this book and I’ve seen the movie too. I REALLY loved the book. It was so adorable and charming and laugh out loud funny and touching. I think I actually preferred the movie though but only slightly. It was because Michael – played by Lee Pace! – is so dashing and passionate and gorgeous. How Delysia was able to resist him for so long I have no idea! I also liked the movie more because it got rid of the casual racism that comes up in the book. I try to make allowances for historical/cultural attitudes in fiction but they still upset me quite a bit. I remember getting massively wound up by the anti-semitism in ‘Oliver Twist!’

    • You are very welcome! *fist bump* Glad you enjoyed the book; it’s definitely one of my go-to books when I’m in need of an uplifting and funny/happy read πŸ™‚ But same here that I prefer the movie particularly when it came to the romances; Lee Pace’s Michael was oh-so-wonderful and without the temper πŸ™‚ And ditto about making allowances to historical and cultural attitudes, but sometimes it can be quite much (for example, for me it would be…I think it was Charlotte Bronte’s The Professor and the endless bemoanings about “Popeism”/Catholicism; it got a bit annoying after a while =S And more recently I’m currently reading Nikolai Gogol’s Taras Bulba and the anti-semitism is just front and centre O_O)

  2. I haven’t read ‘The Professor’ but I’ve read ‘Villette’ and there are anti-Catholic sentiments in that book which annoyed me quite a bit and I’m non-denominational. It’s especially annoying because there’s this one part where the heroine, Lucy, claims to believe in ecumenism and then, like, two pages later she starts fiercely bashing Catholicism. And I’m thinking “Hellloooo! Wake up and smell the hypocrisy!”

    • You know, I think I mixed the two titles up; I read Villette I think around the same time I read The Professor (they’re sort of similar, with schools and teaching involved lol) but yes, I do remember Lucy going off on Catholicism for what felt like an eternity of reading =S

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