Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, first published in 1938 by Methuen, reprinted as a "Persephone Classic" in 2008
I've seen the movie starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, and Lee Pace, but I didn't realize that it was based upon a book. The author was Winifred Watson, who lived in Newcastle, England, and the novel was first published in 1938. Thankfully, Persephone Books has reprinted it, so it is still available to today's reader.
This is a charming period story encompassing one pivotal day in the life of Miss Pettigrew, a forty-year-old spinster who earns a poor living as a not very effective "nursery governess" in London in the late 1930's. Years of being brow-beaten by her employers have diminished her self-respect and confidence, and she's at the end of her rope when she's mistakenly sent to apply for a job with a theatre actress/nightclub performer, Delysia LaFosse. This beautiful young woman is also at her wit's end trying to juggle the three men in her life, and Miss Pettigrew rises to the occasion, sorting out Delysia's lovers and life. Both women blossom as they supply what the other one lacks, and a special friendship develops between these two unlikely people.
Guinevere Pettigrew has walked the moral high ground all her life, but when she is surrounded by cocktails, love affairs, and night clubs, she begins to regret it, and develops a "live and learn" attitude. This a light-hearted, optimistic novel, and one that I would enthusiastically recommend, not only to devotées of historical romance, but to people who enjoy Fred Astaire movies or Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books. It's not just the optimism and humour I find appealing, but the "style." People eating dinners of "soup, fish, roast and sweet." Women with waved hair powdering their noses to bolster their confidence before entering a room. It may be nostalgia for a life that only the wealthy were able to lead, but it's still fun.
Note: I have decided to end THE MOVIE GAME series, if only for now. I asked myself why I was blogging about movies when I'm a novelist trying to publicize my books, and the only answers I could come up with were because I love movies, and because I could. It makes more sense to me, however, to offer book recommendations of books I'm currently reading and enjoying, as well as being something new to try in 2014. For anyone who takes a moment to drop by this site, I hope you enjoy it, too.
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