Thursday, March 03, 2016

Winifred Watson - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

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"The person I worked for never gave me any work until the afternoon—he told me to bring some knitting in. So I wrote the whole book in the office." Winifred Watson.

Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is on the verge of being ousted by her landlady, she has no job in hand. If she fails to find one today, she would land up in poorhouse. Her employment agency gives out two addresses to her. One of them, Dylesia LaFosse requires a governess for her children.

Miss Pettigrew lands up on the doorstop of the posh address and rings the bell. After a long long time and repeated ringings of the doorbell, Dylesia opens the door. Dylesia has a problem on hand. She has a man in bed and another is likely to drop in any time. Hence, she needs Phil out immediately. Instead of asking Miss Pettigrew's business, she involves her in the problem. Guinevere is able to help her. This thrills Dylesia and she immediately puts her other problem, involving the other man, NIck, to her. Miss Pettigrew is able to help her there as well.

This seals the fate of Miss Guinevere Pettigrew. For the entire day, Dylesia keeps her close. Miss Pettigrew is a Parson's daughter and most conservative. It is still the 1930's. She is thrown in the whirlwind glamorous lives of stage artists, society ladies and fashion designers. She gets a makeover from the best people in business and begins to see how life can be enjoyed.

Through all this, she is always aware that these delights are hers only for a short time. Any time the bubble will burst, Dylesia will find out that she is destitute and disown her. With a feverish fervor of someone who has nothing to lose, Guinevere seizes the day.

Here is a delicious, charming little book that is such a keeper. I enjoyed the lovely drawings.

The story has a lovely pace. Dylesia has a host of friends and parties to attend on the day, so we get to meet a wide range of people. The characters are lively and interesting.

This was also made into a movie by Bharat Nalluri by the same name. I saw the movie way back in May 2009 and was completely charmed by it.

For the first time in my life I am torn in two. I loved the book and I loved the movie. The movie does NOT follow the book faithfully and I am not able to gauge if the movie could have been better for it. Why not just enjoy them as they are, especially as they are equally delightful.

My only grouse is that the movie changes the character of Edyth. In the book, she is merely a friend of Delysia's who is kind to Miss Pettigrew. Also, having seen the movie, I kept looking out for certain events, which spoiled my enjoyment of the book in the middle parts of it. Once I reached the end, I was too charmed to stop and try and compare them.

I mentioned in my movie review that Dylesia LaFosse reminded me a little of Holly Golightly. This book gives you the same kind of a feeling that viewing Breakfast at Tiffany's gives you. That things will turn out well and life will throw you pleasant surprise if only you will let it.


Carole said...

Hi, looks like a fab book! It would be great if you added your review to the Books You Loved: March collection over at Carole's Chatter. Cheers

Madhulika Liddle said...

This makes me want to read the book - especially since I watched the movie (for Lee Pace, who I think did a surprisingly convincing role as a Brit, considering he's American). And I liked the movie a lot. It was, as you put it, charming. :-)

Ava Suri said...

Yes, do read. But remember it differs from the movie, as I have mentioned. I kept agonising over the appearance of Joe. That kind of made me impatient.

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