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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

by Winifred Watson
Persephone book no:

20 21 22

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A Well Full of Leaves
Regular price £14.00
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ISBN 9781903155103

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is about a down-on-her-luck, middle-aged governess who is sent by an employment agency to the wrong address: instead of a household of unruly children, she encounters a glamorous night-club singer named Miss LaFosse. Over a period of twenty-four hours her life is changed - forever. 

The Guardian asked: 'Why has it taken more than half a century for this wonderful flight of humour to be rediscovered? Pure Cinderella fantasy farce with beaus, bounders, negligées and nightclubs - Miss Pettigrew's blossoming is a delight to observe.' The Daily Mail liked the book's message - 'that everyone, no matter how poor or prim or neglected, has a second chance to blossom in the world,' while in The Shops India Knight described Miss Pettigrew as 'the sweetest grown-up book in the world and Tracy Chevalier agreed that 'Miss Pettigrew is irresistible, a perfect mix of wistfulness and joy, substance and froth.'

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was made into an excellent film in 2008 starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams.

Also available as a Persephone Classic, a Persephone e-book and a Persephone Audiobook read by Frances McDormand. 


The endpaper is, like that for Saplings, a 1938 furnishing fabric by Marion Dorn; it is an elegant and light-hearted repeat pattern on a background of pale linen.

Read What Readers Say

From First Page to Last via Instagram

Oh what a joy this book is. ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ is one of those novels where you kick yourself for not reading it sooner and yet feel like you’ve discovered a gem. There is something wonderfully exuberant and almost careless about the novel. There are a couple of instances that haven’t aged well but otherwise this is a timeless piece about societal structure and the self-imposed boundaries one can set. It’s a lesson about living, about being able to breach the confines of expected behaviour and of re- discovering new aspects of yourself. I loved spending the day with Miss Pettigrew and her new friends. I’ll be revisiting her again soon.

Bleadenreads via Instagram

‘Miss Pettigrew’ was an absolute delight to read and was much needed in a stressful week at work. It marked a lovely change to my usual bleak, dark fiction and non-fiction choices and I will be making an effort to find more joyful fiction like it. Winifred Watson wrote such a powerful stream of consciousness for Miss Pettigrew so you fully felt all of her nerves, excitement and joy. There were fabulous descriptions of the glamorous fashions of the day, which, through the eyes of poor Miss Pettigrew, seemed even more opulent and chic. I enjoyed the way the novel looked at modern (well 1930s) standards of beauty and the pressures on women (eg. early nose jobs). Miss Pettigrew was incredibly sheltered and naive but quickly becomes indispensable to her new employer. I loved this novel and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun read. However, please note that there are some comments that are misogynistic, as well as two anti-Semitic stereotypes, often found in 1930s fiction, which are jolting to a modern reader.

AJ via Instagram

Very jolly and quite racy for 1938. Strongly recommend… Also, a genuinely interesting and illuminating preface about a writer I knew nothing about.

Categories: Humour Love Story Single Women Social Comedy

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