Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

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.

Sometimes, there is a moment in your life when a book collides with your emotions, and puts everything you’re feeling into some kind of gorgeous sense, and makes you feel even happier than you did to begin with. For me, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was exactly that book. My picking it up coincided with one of the happiest weeks of my life, and I literally hugged the book when I finished it!

I finished this glorious novel in lightning speed, mostly because I HAD to find out what happened at the end! I adored Miss Pettigrew and all her new friends, and felt myself utterly gravitating towards the women of the novel. It is such a shame that this work isn’t given more credit, and remains somewhat elusive, as it is truly up there with the very best feel-good novels I’ve ever read. Thank you to Persephone for re-publishing this darling novel!

At first, I was so worried that something bad would happen to spoil the Cinderella story, and felt myself cringing internally, which was enough to make me put down the book after a few chapters. However, I strode gallantly on, because I felt like Miss Pettigrew needed me to follow her. I am so very glad that I did push on, because it was really worth it.

The relationships between men and women are decidedly cynical, and Watson has managed to play the boundary between cynicism and faith very well. Though some of the ideas in the novel are very questionable (especially in regard to race- there are some very outdated views in it that wouldn’t go down well if the book were released now, and for a good reason) we see how well Watson understood the relations between genders at this point in time, and some remain very current.Of course, there are some good male characters, but even the one portrayed as “good” isn’t exactly a decent person- his first introduction into the novel involved some domestic violence. When you consider the era, these questionable antics are kind of negated, but some recent readers and reviewers have definitely taken offence to it.

What interested me most, however, was the relationships between women portrayed in the novel. We have Guinevere Pettigrew and Miss LaFosse, who are mutually supportive, then Miss LaFosse and Miss DuBarry, who seem to rely on each other to maintain themselves and their image. Then you have Angela, who walks into a room and instantly despises all other women due to her own jealousy and insecurity. Most of us ladies have come across at least one Angela in our lives!

Yes, it’s a light and bubbly adult fairytale, but so what? I love a good light hearted fairy tale of a book! I read way too much “serious” novels, so a nice light, fun read is a really nice break. I read this at precisely the right moment. Sometimes, one enjoys a fairy tale when you feel like you’re having your own little love story at the same time! I’m told this was made into a movie as well, so I’m going to be trying to watch it soon!

5/5 Stars and LeoGatsbyWineFireworkMan!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

  1. Pingback: October In Review | bookarahma

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