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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

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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.

234 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1938

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About the author

Winifred Watson

5 books83 followers
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)

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5 stars
5,127 (32%)
4 stars
6,469 (40%)
3 stars
3,492 (21%)
2 stars
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1 star
225 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,376 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,161 reviews9,030 followers
November 27, 2012
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 horror-show about which people will wince for years?

I was motoring through this book and thinking it was kind of a British counterpart to Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – well, actually, it was The Monkees to Anita Loos' Beatles, but still good fun, as The Monkees are, when Miss Pettigrew on page 162 offers some advice to Miss LaFosse, who is trying to choose between two suitors :

"Now the first one, he was kind too," said Miss Pettigrew earnestly, "but well, my dear. I wouldn't advise marrying him. I don't like to jump to conclusions but I think there was a little Jew in him. He wasn't quite English. And, well, I do think when it comes to marriage it's safer to stick with your own nationality."
"Certainly," said Miss LaFosse, demurely.

Oh yes, that came 12 pages after this – here's one of the suitors speaking :

"Now Delysia's a little devil and there's times I could flay her alive, and obviously she needs a little physical correction, but I'm the only right man to do it."

So, at what point do you shrug and say well, this is before all that political correctness, so you have to – er, roll with the punches (ooh that doesn't sound right) – er, I mean you have to give them a bit of leeway, er don't you? The past is another country and all that? Well, I didn't leave the party, I finished the book, there were no embarassing scenes, but I don't think me and Winifred Watson will be meeting up again any time soon.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
December 31, 2020
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 occasion. A friendship starts to form, and one thing leads to another in the most crazy, wonderful day the downtrodden Miss Pettigrew has ever experienced in her life.

In so many ways this novel is delightful, fluffy fun, with a delicious sense of humor. It's wonderful to see Miss Pettigrew start to blossom, Cinderella-like; even a makeover is included in the fun:
Miss Pettigrew, rapt, thrilled, transported, gazed at herself as her dreams had painted her. A lump came into her throat. Her eyes became misty.

‘Guinevere,’ screamed Miss Dubarry in a panic. ‘For God’s sake, control yourself.’

‘Guinevere,’ gasped Miss LaFosse. ‘Control, I implore you. Your make-up. Remember your duty to your make-up.’

Miss Pettigrew made a valiant effort. ‘Most certainly,’ said Miss Pettigrew with dignity. 'England expects!'
Unfortunately, the occasional, casual racism (against Italians in particular - the word "dago" is used) and anti-Semitism (this guy looks like he has Jewish blood! Oh noes!!) left a bad taste in my mouth. I give older books somewhat of a pass on being dated and non-PC, but I'm still shaking my head over the wholehearted embrace of racist ideas by our heroine. (Whether the author agreed with Miss Pettigrew is, I suppose, up for debate. See the thread for discussion.) A lot of readers are able to handwave this kind of thing in an older book, and it's occasional here (maybe 6 or 8 different passages in the book), but be advised. If you're going to be deeply offended by this sort of thing, or by things like a man physically trying to shake some sense into the woman he loves, you should probably give this a hard pass.

Miss Pettigrew, like Valancy in L.M. Montgomery's delightful The Blue Castle, is a dispirited, bullied woman ready to start breaking society's rules. The company Miss Pettigrew starts keeping lives a fast lifestyle, but ultimately the story affirms friendship and old-fashioned values, which I wouldn't have expected initially.


The Kindle version of this novel (which is far too expensive for an 80 year old novel) does have the original illustrations, which are delightful. On the down side, it really needs another round of copy editing. If you have a choice, get a hard copy.
Profile Image for Melindam.
607 reviews255 followers
May 2, 2020
"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 place: London. Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, 40-year old, lonely, overlooked, dowdy spinster, sets out to find a job -her last hope before her landlady will turn her out of her lodgings - as a governess. She is given an address, where she goes and when the door is opened by the lovely, but distressed Delysia LaFosse -actress and singer in a nightclub- Miss P. finds herself in a WORLD, she's never known before: a scandalous, glittering and dangerously seductive world of the demi monde.

Obviously, Miss LaFosse does not need a governess, but Miss Pettigrew helps her out of a tight spot and earns her undying admiration in the process. Before the misunderstanding of Miss P's situation can be cleared up, further predicaments arise and Miss Pettigrew -like never before- rises up to all occasions brilliantly. She knows, of course, that she should turn her back on this world of sin and sinners, but she is totally fascinated and she just cannot.

I don't usually draw comparison between authors, but I think this time it seems just fitting to say that Winifred Watson's writing reminds me a bit of P. G. Wodehouse. You get the same high & light entertainment factor.

I also encourage you to check out the movie, which is excellent with Frances McDormand & Amy Adams & absolutely manages to catch and reflect the spirit of the book.
Profile Image for Fiona MacDonald.
673 reviews166 followers
March 19, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Beverly.
773 reviews265 followers
September 12, 2020
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 seizes the day and saves everyone around her, herself included. The only caveat I have is an oozing blotch if anti-Semitism, or this would be perfect. I have to remind myself that it was written in 1938, but still, it is a shame that hate should blemish a sweet, silly story like this.
Profile Image for Violeta.
73 reviews78 followers
February 20, 2022
Nobody one day, queen of London the next!

A charming Cinderella-like story, possessing enough acuteness to balance out its excessive cuteness. Masterfully narrated by actress Frances McDormand who portrayed Miss Pettigrew on the screen.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,217 reviews164 followers
July 12, 2020
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 light read that combines vaudeville and fairy tale to great delight. Miss Pettigrew is endearing with her mixture of naivety and wisdom, and I couldn't resist following her on her day of freedom from social mores, discovering a world of brilliance and luxury totally different from her own drab existence. She finds she has a real skill at repartees, even if often unconsciously done. The scenes between her and the various characters she meets are often very funny, full of ridicule, and pure theatre.

Through those few hours, she readjusts her moral compass to great humour. She grows in confidence, becoming someone that people can rely on and a problem-solver. She finally starts to see her worth and becomes herself. This is however a novel of its time and the 1930s had views that we find nowadays distasteful (and rightly so). I of course don't agree with the couple of racist and sexist comments made in the book but I understand their context. Should they be removed? No. I don't believe books, or films, should ever be censured. That would go against freedom of speech and would only lead us to catastrophe. How was Watson's novel regarded in her own time after all? She does describe women in a different light, more in charge of their destinies than the so-called ladies, using all they have to their advantage, which doesn't deny kindness and compassion.

Is it still worth 5 stars? Totally. This is pure escapism. A feel-good book that will give hours of fun again and again. Thank you Persephone Books for rescuing this little gem.

PS: What is it about the surname Pettigrew? Two of my favourite books have it in their title (the other is Major Pettigrew's Last Stand)
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 56 books7,646 followers
November 13, 2022
A super frothy tale of a downtrodden governess who is accidentally sent to a nightclub singer/glamour girl, and finds herself in the middle of 24 Hour Party People, with her morals collapsing and hitherto unsuspected talents blooming. It's very silly, with some great lines, and a cheerily amoral approach to life and fun that puts kindness above all.

Unfortunately the book is marred by some crunching casual racism and antisemitism (book published 1938, we see you, Winifred Watson), which brings the mood to a screeching halt. Also unfortunately, the epub edition from Persephone Books is garbage. Line breaks are screwed up and it's full of random characters, very much as if it was machine converted and nobody troubled to read it over. If they had, they might have cut the antisemitic lines while they were at it, to the book's considerable benefit. I'm annoyed because this was very close to being a wonderful comfort read but ooof.
Profile Image for Anne.
380 reviews71 followers
December 19, 2021
”Such a day!” said, Miss LaFosse. “Everything went wrong and everything went right. But I daren’t think what would have happened if you hadn’t come.”

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a delightful charming 1938 novel about woman on the brink of destitution whose life is transformed by serendipity.

Miss Pettigrew (40) is sent on a last chance employment assignment by her agency after receiving complaints about her skill as a governess. When she reports to the address, she finds herself working for Delysia LaFosse, a sensual and scantly clad nightclub singer and aspiring actress. And nary a child in sight, much to Miss Pettigrew’s relief.

She is more than mildly horrified by the smoking, drinking, cocaine, and abundance of boyfriends about Miss LaFosse’s flat. Miss Pettigrew, who adheres to virtuous behavior, considers leaving but knows her only alternative is the workhouse. She is out of her depth but uses her keen observations skills and knowledge from films she has watched to adapt an attitude of “fake it until you make it.”

Miss Pettigrew’s ability to hold her tongue and allow others to fill in the silence sets the scene for hilarity. By managing some delicate situations for Miss LaFosse with swift efficiency, she ensures her job. The next twenty hours introduces Miss Pettigrew to life experiences she never dreamed possible. She makes up her mind to just go with it – to live for a day – and tomorrow she will worry about her options.

I loved the clever humor and volumes of dialog in this book. That alone earned this story a place on my favorites list. Wit drawn from misconceptions that challenges one party to navigate their way through murky social situations is so entertaining. Miss Pettigrew handled it with aplomb.

It was heartwarming to witness Miss Pettigrew’s transformation. She finds hope and happiness are possible for her. Every hour brings new experiences, more excitement. She is so humble and kind, you can’t help loving this character.

I saw the 2008 film adaptation starring Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew. It was as delightful as the book. The slightly altered ending remained true to the book. Overall, this romantic comedy was more touching, but the humor didn’t quite achieve the cleverness I loved in the book.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is on the 1001-books-to-read list. It is a book I’ve been meaning to read for years and am happy to know if was worth it.
Profile Image for Mo.
1,562 reviews164 followers
February 25, 2021

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 make dinner for your husband. And you are appalled at the direction your thoughts have taken, of course you don’t wish death upon your spouse, but you can’t help wishing he could just magically disappear for the next couple of days? And you push those demon thoughts aside, dutifully make dinner, gulp it down, do those damn dishes, and race back to your book. And that’s when your husband decides that NOW he wants to talk to you, and you think that maybe your earlier thoughts had not really been all that harsh?

That was how this book made me feel. This was hands-down one of the most entertaining books I have ever read. Maybe it was a case of the right book at the right time, but I loved every word of it and am sorely disappointed that I am done with it.


NOTE: Honey, if you’re reading this review, just kidding... kinda sorta! :)
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,425 reviews12.7k followers
January 13, 2018
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 inoffensive people, it’s impossible to dislike! That said, it’s far from a flawless read.

Loosely a modern(ish - the book was first published in 1938) re-imagining of Cinderella, the story takes place over the course of a single day so the pacing is brisk. In part because of that, it’s a quick read despite a vague, meandering purpose (you don’t really notice it’s a Cinderella retelling until the second half) and a lack of plot. It also oddly reads a bit like a play as most of the story takes place in a single room everyone walks in and out of - though maybe that was just the style of rom-coms back then?

The characters are unoriginal sketches - conventional upper-class Londoners who enjoy their booze, drugs (given the otherwise discreet atmosphere of the book, cocaine makes a slightly jarring appearance in an early scene!) and late nights while Miss Pettigrew is almost a caricature of humility - but they’re mostly likeable, and, while I’m not a huge romance fan, the cast’s relationship intrigues and playful tone were amusing enough. That said, I’m not sure what exactly Miss Pettigrew does that impresses everyone to give her the status she acquires throughout but I’m putting that down to being one of the dated features of the time (along with a couple of distasteful and disturbingly casual anti-Semitic slurs she makes).

Aside from the dull grey cover, I liked the book’s presentation a lot which strongly evoked the era. Contemporary illustrations are dotted throughout in a style that feels of the time and complemented the text well. The ‘30s endpaper designs are quaint and even the font looks suitably old-fashioned (ITC Baskerville - love it!).

Though not an “important” or highly distinguishable novel, I’m glad that Persephone Books rescued Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day from an obscurity it doesn’t deserve. And, while it’s not the most memorable or exciting story, it is well-written, entertaining for a period piece and, above all, charming. If you’re after a perfectly accessible, amiable read with a feel-good ending, you could do worse than this.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews45 followers
November 15, 2018
"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 lead to a twenty-four hour day of glamour, excitement and the way the other half (or sinners, as her vicar would say) live. I remember not being a fan of the film when I saw it years ago, but was determined to give the book a try regardless. So glad I did! Maybe I wasn't ready for Miss Pettigrew's charms, or the thrills of London circa 1938. I've been chastened. There is so much to learn! For example:

"Our Vicar once said that to swear in your mind was just as bad and even more cowardly than to swear out loud. He did neither."

What about makeup?

"All these years and she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose...And all because she lacked courage. All because she had never thought for herself. Powder, thundered her father the curate, the road to damnation. Lipstick, whispered her mother, the first step on the downward path. Rouge, fulminated her father, the harlot's enticement. Eyebrow pencil, breathed her mother, no lady...!"

Silky drawers?

"'But the young girls!' Miss Pettigrew shook her head. 'Silk it is and silk it has to be. No warmth at all. I don't know how they don't all die of pneumonia. You cannot make them understand that they look better for wool. A warm body means a glowing face. A cold body means a pinched look and a red nose.'"

I'm sure that I'll be coming round to this one quite frequently, just like The Diary of a Provincial Lady. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for MsAprilVincent.
534 reviews70 followers
June 1, 2009
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 admiration of a host of young people, and possibly finds a little romance of her own ... all in the course of 24 hours.

The subject matter seems a tiny bit racy, particularly when one takes into account that this was written by a woman in the early 20th century, when the Hays Code would have had us believe that nobody drank alcohol, had sex, or said dirty words, when men were valiant and heroic, and women were faithful and timid and believed they were "the weaker sex." That's all shot to hell here, and rightly so.

I love books about heroines who decide to just go for it, to toss away inhibitions and societal restrictions, who learn that the rules they've followed for years are arbitrary and often misogynistic, and who "find themselves" when they'd thought their lives were over.

This is a short, charming read, and I smiled the entire time I was reading it.
Profile Image for Umut.
355 reviews166 followers
December 28, 2018
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 uplifting. So, if you're looking for a lovely story that will warm your heart. It's definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
470 reviews349 followers
January 19, 2019
Such a sugar sweet candy book, really uplifting and witty, why haven't I read it before?
Off to see the movie now!
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,092 reviews588 followers
February 11, 2020
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 club singer with an astounding number of men chasing after her. With her ability to read people and her good old common sense, Miss Pettigrew is able to advise Delysia on how to deal with her man problems and in return enjoys a day full of glamour and delights totally unknown to her before now. At the end of the day both Miss Pettigrew and Miss LaFosse will have been transformed in ways they didn't think possible.


*Just noting that there were a few occasions where mysogynist or anti-semitic comments made me gasp before reminding myself that this book was written in an earlier age, in the period between the wars when these sentiments would not have been thought wrong, and before much needed sweeping changes would be made to society. For example:

From a man who wants to marry Miss LaFosse:
"Now Delysia's a little devil and there's times I could flay her alive, and obviously she needs a little physical correction, but I'm the only right man to do it."

Miss Pettigrew's comments about one of Miss LaFosse's suitors:
"I wouldn't advise marrying him. I don't like to jump to conclusions but I think there was a little Jew in him. He wasn't quite English. And, well, I do think when it comes to marriage it's safer to stick with your own nationality."
Profile Image for Tania.
710 reviews58 followers
July 9, 2020
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 herself over and enjoy a day that includes beauty treatments, cocktail parties and nightclubs with her new friends, and not worry about being a respectable 'lady'. A modern(ish) day fairy tale to warm the heart. I loved the simple illustrations that accompanied the story.
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,206 reviews118 followers
May 3, 2022
The Fairy of bread crumbs
At my age, I can afford to enjoy life. And your opinion on this matter can go to hell.
There is a legend about the fairy of bread crumbs: once upon a time, in a certain city, a nondescript aunt: dressed in gray rags, ate stale bread, which bakers sold for half price, obediently endured arrogant treatment from the townspeople. And no one knew that in fact she was a beautiful fairy, serving a spell waiting for a young man to be born and grow up in this city, destined for her husband.

The story of Miss Pettigrew living her extraordinary day is reminiscent of this fairy tale. Life had never spoiled the lonely, poor, unattractive Ginevra Pettigrew before: her parents brought her up in the fear of God, without a shred of divine love. And if the humiliated position of a semi-servant governess in rich houses, through many of which she happened to pass, did not deprive her of self-respect, it was only because the inner core of this woman turned out to be more solid than one might have assumed.

Фея хлебных крошек
В моем возрасте я могу себе позволить получать удовольствие от жизни. А ваше мнение по этому поводу может катиться ко всем чертям.
Есть предание о фее хлебных крошек: жила-де, в некоем городе невзрачная тетка: одевалась в серое тряпье, питалась черствым хлебом, который булочники продавали за полцены, покорно сносила от горожан высокомерное обращение. И никто не знал, что на самом деле она прекрасная фея, отбывающая заклятье в ожидании, когда в этом городе родится и вырастет юноша, предназначенный ей в мужья.

История мисс Петтигрю, живущей свой необыкновенный день, напоминает об этой сказке. Жизнь и прежде не баловала одинокую небогатую непривлекательную Джиневру Петтигрю: родители воспитывали в страхе божьем, без толики божественной любви. И если униженное положение полуприслуги - гувернантки в богатых домах, через множество которых ей довелось пройти, не лишило ее самоуважения - то лишь потому, что внутренний стержень этой женщины оказался более твердым, чем можно было предположить.

Она не любила детей и побаивалась избалованных отпрысков своих работодателей, она утратила, к сорока годам, надежду устроить свою жизнь замужеством. Бедна, некрасива, плохо одета и неухоженна, задолжала квартирной хозяйке, которая грозиться согнать ее, и все очень плохо. В агентстве по найму есть заявка на гувернантку, за которую мисс Петтигрю хватается, как утопающий за соломинку и попадает в будуар.

Прекрасная незнакомка, открывшая ей дверь, актриса Делия Лафосс, играет с жизнью в рискованные игры, стремясь взять от нее все. Едва вытолкав за порог любовника. который ночевал у нее нынешней ночью, принимает визит мужчины, который оплачивает ее апартаменты, этакого полудельца, полугангстера. И вот тут, мисс Петтигрю оказывает ей неоценимую услугу, спасая от подозрений (небезосновательных) в неверности.

Исполненная благодарности, взбалмошная красотка передает новую знакомую своей косметичке Эдит, аттестуя человеком, умеющим уладить самые серьезные проблемы с мужчинами. На самом деле, Джиневра вспоминает манеру поведения своих работодательниц, сплошь респектабельных дам, привыкших к повиновению, и копирует ее. Эти паттерны, вопреки непритязательной внешности, сегодня заставляют мужчин прислушиваться к ней.

А преображенная волшебными руками Эдит Дюбарри (там утянуть и выщипать, тут взбить, завить и подкрасить) - мисс Петтигрю предстает и вовсе новым человеком. Той дивной свободной и независимой женщиной, какой могла бы быть, сложись ее жизнь иначе. Зачем все это? - спросите вы. Затем, что они собираются посетить место, где будет ветреный Тони, а Джиневре уготована роль тайного оружия. Которое и здесь бьет точно в цель, спасая чуть было не распавшиеся отношения.

И это еще не вечер, в том смысле, что да. вечер, но дивный день мисс Петтигрю далек от завершения, впереди поездка в ночной клуб, деятельное участие в судьбе мисс Лафосс и знакомство с ровесником-нуворишем который... Но, упс, тут лучше читать, я против спойлеров. Эта прелестная книга, написанная юной тогда Уинфред Уотсон, прежде отклонялась издательством из опасения, что будет сочтена фривольной. Однако после ожесточенного торга, когда писательница пообещала предоставить в кратчайшие сроки еще один исторический (или деревенский) роман - она к тому времени была автором одного исторического и одного почвенного - опубликовать согласились.

"Один день мисс Петтигрю" стал бестселлером 1938 года, был издан в Штатах и переведен на французский. На немецкий перевод Уотсон тоже дала согласие, но после аннулировала из-за начавшейся войны. А в конце прошлого века, когда о любимой книге своей матушки вспомнила Генриэтта Мартин, кембриджский профессор, курировавший серию ретрокниг, роман обрел вторую жизнь. В 2008, кстати сказать, по нему сняли дивный фильм с оскароносной Фрэнсис Макдорманд ("Земля кочевников")

Очаровательная жизнеутверждающая история о женской дружбе, поддержке и взаимовыручке. О возможности счастья, когда уж и надеяться на него перестаешь.
Profile Image for Anne .
428 reviews335 followers
December 11, 2020
A charming, and uplifting adult fairy tale wonderfully narrated by Frances McDormand. Two women diametrically opposed in all ways, most notably wealth class and character. They meet by accident and spend 24 hours together in a fun plot with well-drawn characters. Miss Pettigrew is dowdy and has lived a boring life. Miss LeFosee is a glamorous young woman with man troubles; she's juggling 3 and believes that Miss Pettigrew can help her. 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 throughout the novel is both touching and fun to behold. The way her life changes at the end is very poignant and ends the story perhaps predictably but no matter, it put a big smile on my face.

Published by Persephone Press.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,631 followers
August 17, 2016
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 entertaining to read about, and I liked how this book deals with how everyone has a different side inside of them. You might know who you are, but you can easily change if circumstances require it.
It was very easy to like Miss Pettigrew, and while some of her behaviour and her adventures were a little bit exaggerated, it was still very entertaining to follow her day from hour to hour and change together with her. All in all, a funny, rather educating read that I recommend if you need a short story that will take you on quite a thought-provoking journey.
Profile Image for Madeline.
766 reviews46.9k followers
September 17, 2008
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 Hotter Long-Lost Twin. You thought it wasn't possible, but I assure you, it is.
Ahem. Anyway. Here, have an excerpt:
" 'That's cocaine,' said Miss LaFosse.
'Oh no! No!'
Terrified, aghast, thrilled, Miss Pettigrew stared at the innocent-looking powder. Drugs, the White Slave Traffic, wicked dives of iniquity, typified in Miss Pettigrew's mind by red plush and gilt and men with sinister black moustaches, roamed in wild array through her mind. What dangerous den of vice had she discovered? She must fly before she lost her virtue. Then her common sense unhappily reminded her that no one, now, would care to deprive her of that possession. It was Miss LaFosse who was in danger. She must save her. She jumped to her feet, tore into the kitchen, and scattered the powder down the sink and returned triumphant.
'There!' she said breathlessly. 'That bit of temptation is beyond your reach now.' "
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,645 reviews433 followers
January 2, 2021
"Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" is a humorous 1938 novel about second chances. Guinevere Pettigrew is a destitute governess in her 40s who was sent by her employment agency to interview for a job. The agency had mixed up their clients, and they sent her to Delysia LaFosse who was in need of a maid. When Miss Pettigrew arrives, Delysia is frantic because she has to get rid of one lover before another arrives. Miss Pettigrew, who usually is very straitlaced, tells one little lie after another, getting Delysia out of tough situations. By the end of the day, Miss Pettigrew learns how to have fun, and she acts as a good influence on Delysia.

Many British men were killed during World War I so there were extra women in that generation. The women ended up working as servants and governesses when they often would have loved to be married with a family. Miss Pettigrew was in that situation and did not enjoy her work.

The story is fun and frothy with the dialogue reminding me of a 1930s black and white romantic comedy film. Unfortunately, there were several anti-Semitic remarks in the dialogue. Overall, the book is pure escapism for when you want a dose of humor. Persephone re-released the book, and a film was made in 2008.
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
610 reviews750 followers
October 22, 2015
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 my visa application tomorrow.)

I'm touched by his confidence in her abilities, but I do wish he'd directed her to better reading instead.

Now, this is invariably called charming, but I am wearing my charm resistant suit today. I found it more weirdly disturbing to think that such a grotesque world may well have existed, where a man proves his manliness by socking another on the nose, and this is considered to be restoring the natural order, since the 'manly' socker was a fine upstanding Englishman and the other nothing but a wimpy foreigner, by Jove, and as such was bound not to put up a fight. And the worst misdemeanour a woman can commit is having a shiny nose.

Didn't ever make me laugh either. Dear me, charm-safe suit and humour bypass, both on the same day. Must be hormonal.

It is a fairy tale, of course it is, and thus not to be taken seriously. And like all good fairy tales, it has a moral: only drink enough Manhattans or Snake's Venoms or Death in the Afternoons and you can shake off all social awkwardness and say anything to anyone, and what's more they will find you charming. Sounds like a recipe for a fun weekend. Where's the vodka?
Profile Image for Maria.
67 reviews26 followers
September 11, 2022
One should remember that the movie and the book are completely different from each other! It's like two different and almost unrelated stories. I liked the book but I just loooove the movie!!!
Profile Image for Amy.
2,542 reviews380 followers
October 18, 2021
2021 Review
Still thoroughly enjoy this story but I must admit, the occasional anti-Semitism is rather glaring.

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.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,809 reviews348 followers
October 27, 2020
I felt a certain kinship with Miss Pettigrew—although considerably younger when I arrived in the big city, I was an unsophisticated farm girl, green as grass, totally out of my element and doubting whether I would ever attain the confidence that many of my peers demonstrated. I had a roommate who took me in hand and got me herded in the right direction, just as Miss Le Fosse and Miss DuBarry do for Guinevere Pettigrew.

However, Miss P has been a governess for many years and has taken care of herself during that time. She has what we now call transferable skills. She can cook an unexpected breakfast, find a way to heave a man out the door, convince the next fellow that those cheroots were hers, and manage a pouting young man back to his fiancée. And she is absolutely masterful at any of these tasks once she has a bit of alcohol in her. It overcomes her hesitations and self-doubts and allows her inner extremely competent governess out to deal with things. If you can run a classroom of small children, manipulating adults (who have ideas of social niceties) is easy, if you have the aplomb to carry it off. Frankly, a tot of something before facing the children would likely have made her into a better governess.

There is much to be said for being ladylike, but if it isn't working for you, letting go of it is the right move. Learning to dress, wear make-up, hold her liquor, and make conversation…that's a lot to absorb in a day. That tells me that Miss P is an intelligent, adaptable woman who has been denied advantages by the polite class. It's the not-so-polite-society folks who see her worth and her talent. Her inexperience shows and amuses them, but they don't hold it against her, in fact they encourage her, mentor her.

I found myself moved by the kindness of these people who had only known Guinevere for less than a day. And I loved Joe. I think that Watson stopped the novel at the perfect spot, where the potential for happiness is clear but we don't need to dwell on the detail. What a charming story!

Cross posted at my blog:

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