Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was written in 1938 and humorously evokes a bygone era. Miss Pettigrew is a governess, who is rather terrified of children. One day, when she is desperate for work, an employment agency sends her to the wrong address. There she encounters a glamorous and bohemian night-club singer, named Miss LaFosse. A superb comedy begins, as Miss Pettigrew and Miss LaFosse spend 24 hours together, with wonderful consequences for both of them – and with the message that everyone can have a second chance (or maybe even a third or fourth!).
The Guardian asked “Why has it taken more than half a century for this wonderful flight of humour to be rediscovered?” and author India Knight described Miss Pettigrew as “the sweetest grown-up book in the world”. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a fun, lighthearted book and very easy to read, but it also has a serious message. It makes the reader think about the difficulties of life as a ‘spare woman’ – a fate that befell so many after WWI– and about the fear of sinking into poverty, at a time when women were routinely paid significantly less than men.
This unfairly forgotten novel was brought back into the light by Persephone Books – and Goldster members may remember our recent Inside Story with Persephone’s founder, Nicola Beauman. Since that time it has become a bestseller and been turned into a film, starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams and Ciaran Hinds. Join Lucinda Hawksley at midday on 27th May as we discuss Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as our Goldster Book of the Month.