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4.6 out of 5 stars
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)
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137 of 138 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 April 2001
This gorgeous fairytale is the perfect book to pick up when you've had a bad day at work, and you feel a cold coming on (as I did). Guinevere Pettigrew's adventures with Miss LaFosse make sparkling reading. Miss Pettigrew is sent to the wrong address by her employment agency (she works as a nanny). Instead of a household of fractious children, she finds a glamourous young woman of slightly dubious morals, with a number of pressing problems, from cocaine in the bathroom to a jealous lover. Miss Pettigrew solves everything, using nothing more forceful than common sense and an ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This beautifully produced edition of the novel (first published in 1938) is enhanced by Persephone's excellent choice of endpapers and the original line drawings throughout the text. You won't be disappointed by this magical story.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
If there is anyone who can put this book down once they have started reading it, I shall be surprised. It is a true Cinderella story of a down trodden spinster who is facing a frightening old age with no family and living by her own meagre earnings. Then one day a fairy godmother in the unlikely guise of Miss DeFoss, a nightclub singer, appears when Miss Pettigrew knocks on her door is mistaken for somebody else. The day transforms her life. This book is funny, witty, enchanting and totally captivating and illustrated by sharp black and white drawings. Persephone continues to surprise and delight with their continuing discovery of wondrous works like this. Read and enjoy!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2007
This book is a fairy tale story of a woman who by accident discovers that all the things she has been told in her life are good and proper are also the things that have stopped her from really living.

Miss Pettigrew arrives at Delysia La Fosse's flat a timid larvae and over the course of the day becomes a beautiful butterfly as the acceptance and trust placed in her by Miss La Fosse and her friends allows Miss Pettigrew to be herself for the first time in her life.

This book is a truely wonderful read, it is full of warmth and delight, I read it in one sitting and will return to it any time I feel the need for a little magic in my life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2005
What a fantastic, truly charming story. It is an excellent mood lifter and the sort of feel good book that makes you want to throw caution to the wind and have a wild night out on the town. Due to an error at her job agency, Miss Pettigrew, a middle-aged spinster looking for work as a governess finds herself early one morning at Miss LaFosse's house - a young, gorgeous socialite. Her life is changed irrevocably when Miss P steps across the threshold and becomes caught in the dramatic, eventful maelstrom that is Miss LaFosse's life. Amazingly relevant by 21st century standards (one of Miss LaFosse's many lovers uses that most notorious of class A drugs), Winifred Watson does not fail to surprise or delight.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2008
Like almost everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am a great admirer of the actress Frances McDormand and I think she may excel as Miss Pettigrew if the screen adaptation lives up to the speed and panache of the original story. Yes, ... the original story ... It is definitely of the Cindrella variety and none the worse for that. Some have seen the influence of others in its origins - but none has yet pointed out the faint echoes of a memorable short story by W.S. Maugham about the unexpected London triumph, both social and sartorial, of a mature widow called "Jane". Now I don't exactly remember the date of Somerset Maugham's story (it may have been written before Miss Watson's or afterwards) and so one may have influenced the other to a degree. As to the dialogue, "sparkling" is the word - although the occasional anti-semitisms and xenophobia still come as a bit of a shock in these PC times. That being said, a glorious read. I shall try to obtain the other works by this strangely neglected author.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2001
What a wonderful book. Even from unwrapping it, the cover is absolutely right, it is a book I shall enjoy looking at! The actual text is fascinating, even down to the preface. I literally could not put it down as within the first chapter I became enthralled by the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The best way I can describe `Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' is simply to call it a fairytale, in fact it's a modern (well in terms of being written in 1938) take on the Cinderella story. Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is down on her luck, middle aged and seemingly in the middle of a rather mediocre and hand to mouth existence. Rather than sending her to a house filled with unruly children it seems her employers believe that Miss Pettigrew would be far better suited to a life looking after the household of nightclub singer Miss Delysia LaFosse. Initially you wouldn't think that Miss Pettigrew would be able to stomach spending more than two minutes with Miss LaFosse but a jobs a job and slowly but surely Miss Pettigrew starts to live her life more than she ever has before.

There were two things that I utterly adored about this book. The first was the characters. Miss Pettigrew herself could have possibly come across as slightly too moralistic and I would end up feeling sorry for her and possibly slightly annoyed. I also thought that the flighty and rather wayward Miss LaFosse might get on my nerves for the complete opposite reason of her being so completely and utterly over the top. Neither happened I am glad to report. In fact the chalk and cheese nature of these two women and how their relationship developed was one of the complete joys of the book, from polar opposites mutual lessons of self discovery come to these two women in many ways. Their characters were wonderful and possibly the best thing about the book all in all.

The other thing I loved was the timing and pacing of the book. I hadn't remembered from the film that it does indeed take place over the space of a single day. Yes, the title does suggest that but not all titles are 100% reflective of the book inside are they? I loved the way the book was sectioned out in 26 chapters, some encapsulating 2 hours some 20 minutes etc, from 9.15am one day till 3.47am the next. It kept the pace and plot moving but more importantly left me believing, rather naively and sentimentally, that your life really can change completely in the space of a single day.

I loved this book quite unashamedly and I think that its one of my very favourite of the Persephone novels that I have read (and I have indeed read a few now) though it doesn't quite beat `The Shuttle' by Frances Hodgson Burnett yet I think they could both be two of my very favourite books I have read so far. A delightful fairytale in my favourite period (as I do so love the 1930's), I couldn't really ask for more could I?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2009
I finished the book in one day, and loved it.

Poor Miss Pettigrew, so timid and hungry to begin, and so transformed by the end. She sees and hears things that she would never have imagined, "this is living". Miss P. takes it all in, and grows with each experience.

It is a modern day Cinderella book, as other reviews have said. Yet the glimpses of her sad life, and what it was like in the 30s to be unmarried, living in bedsits, at being at the whims of ignorant, snobby, no class employers, make it a sometimes darker book.

This was a "recommended" book, and it is worth every penny. The illustrations are great, and the typeface is easy on the eye.

I am now going to buy the DVD.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2008
I thought this was a lovely novel. Miss Pettigrew's character and history is painted in a series of beautifully written vignettes over the course of one day. On the most superficial level it's a great fairytale, with delightful contemporary detail - the froth of the lace on the negligee, the sharpness of the finely crafted moustache. But under the surface there is great characterisation, a poignant reflection of the position of women in 30s society, and some lessons in a new morality which doesn't judge people for what they are (eg married or not married), but for their actions. Definitely on my read-again list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Miss Pettigrew must find a job. She is a governess - but not a very successful one as she says herself. She is directed to the address of Miss LaFosse and inadvertantly gets involved in her life and loves. The people she is introduced to - Delysia LaFosse's young men - and her professional life - she is a night club singer - changes Guinevere Pettigrew's life for ever. Touching and funny this Cinderella tale shows how chance met people can have an irrevocable effect on each other. The dialogue sparkles and Miss Pettigrew's thoughts illuminate the difference between the two life styles. The story as it unfolds also shows how you think of yourself plays a big part in how others see you, and that very small changes to your appearance can have a huge effect. I am sure it will make a brilliant film which will make Miss Pettigrew's brand of wisdom available to a wider audience.
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