Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Divine Miss P
Miss Pettigrew, that is. I avoided Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson for a long time. I knew that it was Persephone's top seller and I generally avoid books on bestseller lists, or that everyone likes on principle alone. Over time, I have found that this policy doesn't really serve me, as I've come to learn after reading these sorts of books after they've fallen off the radar. In any case, I saw the preview of Miss Pettigrew - the movie - a few months ago and thought I'd better read the book before I saw the film.
I finished the book earlier this week and found it utterly delightful. I'm sure most know the plot but for those who don't, Miss Pettigrew is a down on her luck governess who ends up at the apartment of the lovely Miss LaFosse about a job and they spend a whirlwind of a day together, the best day of Miss Pettigrew's life. This book was originally published in 1938 and it seems to me it would have been quite risque for that time, in the most wonderful way. While many of the situations and misunderstandings that occur seem....highly unlikely...this delightfully funny book made me smile and cheer for its heroines. Has anyone read anything else by Watson? She had 5 other books published and now I am curious about them.
Having finished the book in good time, I had tentative plans to see the film last night with a girlfriend. The date having fell through, my husband who cleared his calendar for the event sent me on my way. Lest you think this was particularly generous of him, keep in mind that he is planning on watching basketball with his friends non-stop for the next 2 days.....tournament time, you know. I took myself to a new theater with plush seats and lots of leg room and after watching about 10 previews immersed myself in Miss Pettigrew's world yet again. I think because I saw the preview before I read the book, I had the actresses images in my mind for these characters so that wasn't a big stretch. The film was very entertaining, 'not as good as the book' as we like to say. The bones of the story are there and almost all of the characters. Many of the situations and lines come straight from the novel. There are changes in the story, for dramatic effect I am certain, and some of the more unrealistic aspects are adapted, or addressed earlier on. It was a fun film experience and especially nice to see on the big screen.