Wednesday, September 09, 2009

#48 - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Sometimes, you need a little lightness in your life. After a hard summer and an even harder year, I'm happy to say that there are a couple of things I've watched and read over the last couple weeks that just make me smile. Glee (Freaks and Geeks meets Fame meets Election) equals bliss and belly laughs, but it's only one once a week. So over the last few weeks I was reading Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day only at the cottage and only before I went to sleep just to make it last that little bit longer.

I adored this novel.

Miss Pettigrew finds herself on Delysia Lafosse's doorstep after a particularly trying last assignment as a governess. In fact, Miss Pettigrew has found herself sent off on a number of trying assignments as she attempts to make her way in the world. Plain (by her own standards), practical, and quite downtrodden, if this job doesn't work out, Miss Pettigrew will find herself out on the streets. Only when Miss Lafosse opens up the door to usher Miss Pettigrew inside, there's been a mixup -- she's not there to take care of any children but be a maid (of sorts) for the vivacious young actress/singer who finds herself in quite a pickle when it comes to her love life.

Over the course of the day Miss Pettigrew fixes, fiddles, meddles and generally makes herself indispensible to Delysia and her group of friends. She puts love affairs right, makes sure Miss Lafosse flies in the right direction and even spares some fun for herself. As the minutes and hours tick by, Miss Pettigrew evolves from the unconfident, unhappy, unsuccessful governess into a bright, witty, attractive woman who remains in charge of her station in life. It's a simple Cinderella story in a way -- but that doesn't take away from the charm and utter bliss of this book.

When I was reading a little about the author, Winifred Watson, I learned that she wrote the majority of her first novel while working in an office as a sectretary. Her first books had darker themes and when she submitted Miss Pettigrew, her publisher rejected it (Lionel Shriver can relate). It's a familiar story -- publishers and agents rejecting books that find resonance, win prizes and get made into equally delightful Hollywood films (yes; I've seen the film version that starts Francis McDormand and Amy Adams). I'm so pleased that Persephone exists and a little ashamed that this is the first of their novels that I've read. It certainly won't be the last.

READING CHALLENGES: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is one of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and while I did actually buy it vs pull it off my shelf, I'm counting it anyway. Also, high props to Rachel for recommending it to me. She's a gem.


Bybee said...

I keep circling this one at the bookstore.

Melwyk said...

I want to read this does sound charming and a perfect comfort read.

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