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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  12,276 ratings  ·  1,817 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, 234 pages
Published 2000 by Persephone Books (first published 1938)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,276 ratings  ·  1,817 reviews

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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
Paul Bryant
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Fiona MacDonald
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
"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
Sam Quixote
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 will l
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
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a sugar sweet candy book, really uplifting and witty, why haven't I read it before?
Off to see the movie now!
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 light read that combin
Umut Reviews
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Helene Jeppesen
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
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
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Alice Lippart
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aside from some outdated views in certain places in this book, it was delightful. Very enjoyable.
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
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
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
✘✘ 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
Colleen Fauchelle
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-favorites
Delightful, will read this one again in the future.
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
Katie Lumsden
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
I adore this book. It was so utterly beautiful and lovely, one of those novels that takes such pleasure in life and really captures a sense of happiness and excitement at being alive. It was easy to read, full of lovable brilliant characters, hilarious and moving and just so darn good!
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-my-shelf
This was a fun book to read but I found myself slightly frustrated with the main theme of the book, especially with reading Emer O’Toole’s “Girls will be Girls” alongside this. I think this quote from the book sums it up; “Every female was linked possessively by some male.”
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Bridget
Shelves: fiction
This is a charming and comforting book to read when, for example, the weather is awful and you’ve been sent to Milton Keynes for work and you’re tired and the train journey takes more than five hours and the hotel is so cheap that it considers wifi an optional extra. I imagine enjoyment also correlates to identification with Miss Pettigrew, which I certainly confess to. I am a plain-looking spinster and happened to be wearing a tweed jacket and brogues as I read; governess garb if ever there was ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading and enjoying many Persephone books, I was expecting a lot from their number one bestseller. However, I found myself a bit disappointed, and would have to say for me this is one of their weakest titles out of those I've read.

At the start, a poor, timid, middle-aged governess is sent by an agency to a prospective new job. After she knocks on a stranger's door in London, a series of comic misunderstandings see her being welcomed in by a kindhearted nightclub singer, Miss LaFosse. Wit
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: seen-movie-or-tv, war
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
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow... Full Review now up on my blog: https://wheretheresinktherespaper.wor...
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, audiobook
Written in 1935 and originally published in 1937, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is set in a between-the-wars London that is a mixture of 1930's unemployment and a 1920's glamorous and free-wheeling lifestyle. Poor Miss Pettigrew, a "very bad" governess who is getting on in years, has one last chance to secure employment for herself before she loses her home and must rely on the workhouse to keep her alive. Chance brings her to the door of Miss Delysia LaFoss, a nightclub singer and 1920's style ...more
Book Concierge
Miss Pettigrew is a down-on-her luck, middle-aged governess – and not a very good one at that. Her last position has ended and she cannot make her rent. Her agency sends her on one last appointment, but when she arrives at the apartment she finds a nightclub singer rather than a family with children. The lovely Miss LaFosse, however, needs help – not with children but with the three (3!) men in her life; and Miss Pettigrew is just the sort of woman to take charge of the situation. What happens o ...more
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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).


Fell Top (1935)
Odd Shoes (1936)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938)
Upyonder (1938)
Hop, Step, Jump (1939)
Leave and Bequeath (1943)

“Odd, said Miss Pettigrew conversationally, 'the undermining effect of flowers on a woman's common sense.” 25 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.” 14 likes
More quotes…