Thursday, February 25, 2010

REVIEW: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson

Can I just start by saying how much I absolutely adored Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson? Yes? Yes. Because I did. I adored it. I had a big smile on my face all the way through it. I'd tried to read it a few years ago, but it wasn't the right timing. I wasn't really sure where the characters were coming from. And then I saw the film, which was really cute, and saw them all and the book in a different light.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is a retelling of Cinderella, and it's absolutely charming. Miss Pettigrew is a middle-aged woman, lonely and alone who keeps being fired as a governess. She doesn't really like children anyway, and she's kind of a stick in the mud about what's proper. At the start of the novel she is homeless, without a job and hungry. A misunderstanding leads her to the door of Delyssia LaFosse, a glamourous cabaret singer, with a string of beaux and the complete opposite of Miss Pettigrew in terms of morals and background. And yet, they get on like a house on fire. And so the transformation of Miss Pettigrew has begun.

This is such a wonderful little fairy tale. And apart from a few minor anti-semitic comments, I loved everything about it. I loved Miss Pettigrew, I loved Delyssia. I loved the interaction between the two and how their friendship grows throughout the novel. Miss Pettigrew is really thrown into the deep end here, with the drinking and the swearing and smoking and the boyfriends, but she has a wonderful common-sense that saves poor Miss LaFosse's day and she is able to lighten up a little bit and have fun on this magical day in a different world. It was also quite a sweet little love story as Delyssia tries to figure out which of the three men she's been seeing is the right one for her.

Seeing the film first did leave me with the permanent image of Amy Adams as Miss LaFosse, but that was OK. I still enjoyed the book better (the ending and one of the side-stories was done much better in the book) especially because of the cute little illustrations in my Persephone edition. Gorgeous little book. And this book comes highly recommended from me, as it is funny and charming and heart-warming all at the same time. You won't be disappointed.

Other Opinions:

Reading Matters
In the Shadow of Mt TBR
another cookie crumbles

Read For: 1% well-read challenge, 100+ reading challenge, Support Your Local library challenge


  1. Now you have put me in a fluster! I have book and film. Which do you think I should do first?

  2. Ooh, I wanted to see this movie and only after it was made did I realize it was based on a book. I shouldn't have been surprised. Is it a Persephone book, too? So many points in its favor!

  3. What fun! I'll have to read the book. If you have the DVD for Miss Pettigrew (although you may get a different version over there) there's a great little documentary in the special features, and the son, I think, of the author talks about his mother's writing process, and how her publisher wanted her to write, like, farm fiction, and she wanted to write Miss Pettigrew, and the latter was quite successful.

    I found it heartening :-)

  4. My mum said there were some things in the book that really date it. I guess it's the anti-Semitism. But it's charming enough to overcome that problem?


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