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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  13,746 ratings  ·  2,029 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, Persephone Classics, 234 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Persephone (first published 1938)
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Imogen I am currently listening to it on audio! It's available through Audible :)…moreI am currently listening to it on audio! It's available through Audible :)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  13,746 ratings  ·  2,029 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This sweet little cute little naughty little novel from 1938, with its nudity, its cocaine and its multiple sexual partners (all before page 20) unfortunately throws me into the old quandary which goes – what if you're in the middle of a grand evening with some of your best pals and you're as happy as Larry, whoever he was, having a great time, and then one of them out of the blue makes a racist remark?
What do you do? Stop the party? Denounce your friend? Turn a lovely evening into a memorable h
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.75 stars. In this 1938 book, the proper Miss Pettigrew, a 40 year old faded and timid governess who's fallen into desperate poverty, is sent to a new job by her employment agency.


The address she's given is for a sexy nightclub singer, Miss LaFosse, who's in the throes of Man Troubles: she's juggling two lovers, with a third hopefully waiting in the wings. Miss Pettigrew is scandalized but intrigued. Miss LaFosse begs Miss Pettigrew to help her out:


... and somehow Miss Pettigrew rises to the
"She, Miss Pettigrew, spinster, maiden lady, dull nonentity, jobless, incompetent, was bound for a night club, clad in splendour: painted like the best of them, shameless as the worst of them, uplifted with ecstasy. ‘Oh!’ thought Miss Pettigrew blissfully, ‘I think I’d like to die to-night before I waken up."

This is Pure, Unadulterated ESCAPISM! Utter delight and bliss! This book makes you feel like you are on sugar high after a deceptively light and delicious sugary cake.

The time is 1938, the p
Fiona MacDonald
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
Delightful book. Wonderful little story that was so charming and so innocent I found myself falling in love with Miss Pettigrew page after page. Her kindness, her goodness and her naivety were all described so perfectly. I loved all the characters, loved the storyline itself, and found myself shedding a little tear on the last page. Gorgeous.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She certainly does! This is a fun, comic novel about a downtrodden, destitute, middle-aged governess who, while searching for work, gets caught up in a great adventure. Miss Pettigrew knocks on the door of a lovely, young woman who seems to jump from one crisis to another. Miss LaFosse is warm and kind, but not a lady, she needs help and Miss Pettigrew obliges over and over again.

Working with decency and common sense and a little booze thrown in, Miss Pettigrew not only lives for a day, she sei
Sam Quixote
Down-on-her-luck 40 year old governess Miss Guinevere Pettigrew needs to get a teaching job or she’ll be evicted. But little does she know when she stumbles into the glamorous life of socialite Miss Delysia LaFosse, her fortunes are about to change drastically - today, for the first time in her bleak existence, Miss Pettigrew will LIVE!

Winifred Watson’s Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day is the embodiment of the word “pleasant”. It’s just such a nice little novel full of light, soapy romance and in
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I bought this book after having seen the movie and, as is so often the case, the book is much, much better than the film. While I enjoyed the movie very much, I loved this book and flew through it.

Miss Pettigrew has been repressed and oppressed and one day, after meeting Delysia LaFosse, throws her convictions to the wind and decides to enjoy herself. She has the best time of her life, makes tons of new friends, becomes a sort of "fixer" for Delysia and her degenerate crowd, earns the admiratio
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Comfort re-read :0)

“How do we know what latent possibilities of achievements we possess?

It is always with a little trepidation that I re-visit a book I loved so much. Will it still be a favourite or will it have lost something in the intervening years? I remember enjoying this novel so much back in 2008 and kept fond memories.

So, how was it? The answer - I devoured it in one evening, giggling a few times here and there. I'd forgotten the details and it was lovely to re-discover them. It is a lig
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Highly Recommended

My Favorite Book read in 2014

Did you ever get 15 – 20 pages into a book, and your whole body starts to quiver slightly, because it starts to dawn on you that you MAY just be reading a 5 star book? And you glance at the clock, and do the math (it will take you x number of hours to read this book) and decide you’d better clear your calendar for the next day. And then a truly horrible thought leaps into your mind - that if you were a widow you would not have to stop reading this book in order to ma
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018, classics
"She prayed desperately for a knock on the door. A knock on Miss LaFosse's door heralded adventure. It was not like an ordinary house, when the knocker would be the butcher, or baker or candlestick-maker. A knock on Miss LaFosse's door would mean excitement, drama, a new crisis to be dealt with."—Miss Pettigrew

Dear, Miss Pettigrew! A woman after my own heart! Practically on the steps of the workhouse, Miss Pettigrew can't imagine that her last ditch effort to secure a post as a governess wil
Umut Rados
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely story! I really enjoyed this book, and read it in a couple of days. I'm really glad Persephone books saved this book and brought back to life.
I can imagine it being a hit back at the times it was printed. It's a very lovely feminist story with a lead character, Miss Pettigrew.
The story takes place all in one day, which is another interesting aspect of this book. It actually reminded me of a theatre play. It was very dynamic, dramatic and energetic.
In addition, it was very uplifti
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Such a sugar sweet candy book, really uplifting and witty, why haven't I read it before?
Off to see the movie now!
For the most part*, this is a delightful little book full of life and the joys of the fast life in pre-war England when it was first published (1938).

Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, a timid and down-trodden middle-aged spinster, has recently lost her job as a governess and in her search for a new position her employment agency gives her the wrong address for an interview. Instead of a family with young children she finds the door being opened by Miss Delysia LaFosse, a beautiful actress and night clu
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was supposed to be doing homework, but I chose to spend an hour finishing Miss Pettigrew instead. I regret nothing.
The book is charming, and so is the movie. See and read both versions for full appreciation - read the book because it's fun, silly, and just a nice read overall. This was chick lit before chick lit was even a real genre. If that makes sense at all. See the movie because Frances McDormand is Miss Pettigrew, and it is perfect. The film also features Lee Pace, aka Clive Owen's Hott
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sheer, light-hearted, sparkling fun.

Due to a mix up at her employment agency, Miss Pettigrew, a dowdy spinster looking for a position as a governess is sent to the address of an actress and nightclub singer, Miss Lafosse. Miss Lafosse is beautiful, glamorous and a little bit fast. Not a lady, and not the sort Miss Pettigrew has been brought up to associate herself with. she is however friendly, nice and in need of a bit of help to sort out her tangled love-life. Miss Pettigrew decides to give h
A fairy tale for the faint-hearted.

The charming story of how young Winnie came to write a book claims that her first job didn't exactly tax her time, so she filled her empty work hours with novels. One of her sisters asked what she was reading, to which she replied that it was awful nonsense and she could do better herself; her brother-in-law told her to get on with it, then. Apparently she wrote the whole of her first novel in the mornings at work. (Where do such jobs still exist? I'll put in m
Helene Jeppesen
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the story of Miss Pettigrew, a 40-year-old woman who until now has lived a very innocent, troublefree and rather boring life. However, as the title of this novel indicates, we get to follow Miss Pettigrew on a special day when she encounters enough adventures to last her for a lifetime. These adventures change her, and while we read about her day we also learn about her as a person: both who she was before and who she's becoming now.
A lot of Miss Pettigrew's adventures were very enterta
Alice Lippart
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from some outdated views in certain places in this book, it was delightful. Very enjoyable.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

This is a seriously old fashioned and charming adult fairy tale, and I mean that in the best way. Reading it is much like being transported into one of those classic black and white comedies starring Myrna Loy or Cary Grant; very stylish, slapdash and engaging, but with little substance. I feel that the recent movie adaptation added that much needed substance perfectly, which is why I'll classify the book version of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day much like I do for
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This was a 2 star read, but the extra star was for a narrative and romance focusing on a middle aged spinster. There were so many sexist passages that made me cringe, and a few racist ones, too. I love the movie adaptation so much more than this source material. It was quaint and fun sort of story, but severely dated to the point of not being that enjoyable for me.
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
I liked this mainly because my son bought it for me. It was an ok read, but that's all.
Linda Dobinson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a delightful story that is very much of its day. I absolutely loved it.
It can be described as a Cinderella story though Delysia LaFosse and Edythe Dubarry are reversals of the ugly sisters.
As the title suggests the action takes place over the course of one day. Each chapter covers a few hours so the pace is fast.
Guinevere Pettigrew is a forty year old spinster who had led a drab, malnourished existence as a not-very-good governess. Terrorised by employers and ch
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming, and uplifting adult fairy tale wonderfully narrated by Frances McDormand. Two women diametrically opposed in all ways such wealth and class, character (unworldly) and many meet by accident and spend 24 hours together in a fun plot with well-drawn characters. By story's end, each one has had a major influence on the life and future of the other. Miss Pettigrew steals the show; she is such a wonderful character and watching her reactions as she is introduced to new experiences througho ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
2019 Review
It gets better with every re-read.

2018 Review - 4 stars
Really, I do not know why I called this book sometimes dreadful. It is delightful! I chuckled my way through my re-read and it left me feeling quite happy. I won't analyze why I like it more now, but I really do.

2013 Review - 3 stars
A 1938 novel, very fun, amusing, and light. Sometimes dreadful but worth it.
Colleen Fauchelle
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-favorites
Delightful, will read this one again in the future.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I hesitated over giving this book five stars. "It's fluff," I told myself. "This is not a Literary Masterpiece. It's a fun novel. It's frivolous. How can I give something so frivolous five stars?" I summed up the plot in my head to see if some Serious, Important aspect of the novel had slipped past my notice. It hadn't. The book was exactly as promised (in some review, somewhere, I'll find it later): a champagne comedy. Sweet, bubbly, light.

It was then that I recalled a similar description had b
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, seen-movie-or-tv
I feel elated! All I wanted from life was a book about people whom I liked, people with whom I could possibly identify with. I wanted to look at a character and see their admirable qualities reflected in me. This is that book.
The movie is beautiful, sweet and romantic, ao I doubted the source material, especially given my recent experences. But oh, I was wrong! I should have trusted this author and this book.
This story is by a woman, about women and for women. It's empowering, and it lifted the
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
This is such a delightful read, I loved it from beginning to end! I've been reading so many books lately that I wished would have been shorter but with Miss Pettigrew I wish the book would have been much longer:)

I can't believe I came across this charming, beguiling, uplifting, feel good tale by pure chance, it must have been my lucky day! This became an instant classic to me after the first few pages. I just love Watson's writing, the way she portrays the characters and their feelings. Miss Pe
4 Stars for the book, 5th star for the narrator, Frances McDormand)

A fun book written in 1938, that takes place in London and is the basis of the 2008 film with Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew and Amy Adams as the nightclub singer, Delysia Lafosse. LaFosse was an American in the film. Pettigrew, a 40 yr old spinster who until now lived a sheltered and uneventful life. She is an out of work governess who is sent to Delysia's for a job. Pettigrew is caught in the whirlwind of the glamorous, De
A splendid book. Lovely. It was pure enjoyment. I adore Miss Pettigrew! One of the best characters from books I have ever read.

But there’s one thing I found fatal: pitying myself. It made things worse

Although the novel was written before IIWW I kept thinking that all those people, their world was at the end. So, it has an additional meaning, emotions for me. And this world was so refreshing and glamourous.

And how they talked! She had never heard the like before. Their ridiculous inconsequence. E
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Winifred Eileen Watson (20 October 1906 - 5 August 2002) was an English writer. She is best known for her novel, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which was adapted into a major motion picture of the same name (released in 2008).


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“Odd, said Miss Pettigrew conversationally, 'the undermining effect of flowers on a woman's common sense.” 26 likes
“All the men send you orchids because they're expensive and they know that you know they are. But I always kind of think they're cheap, don't you, just because they're expensive. Like telling someone how much you paid for something to show off.” 16 likes
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