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.

13 comments:

Cath said...

I've been trying to find out when the UK release date for this movie is as I'd love to see it. At first it seemed there wasn't one but one site said the 8th. March, which means it's already out. I'm guessing it hasn't been picked up by the big cinemas so I may have to wait for the dvd. The cast looks excellent!

Jill said...

In some ways, it was such a frothy book that I would think it couldn't really support a movie, given our expectations. Unless it was a movie on the order of Bringing Up Baby or something equally silly and fun. That said, I certainly look forward to viewing Miss Pettigrew, but it won't happen until it hits DVD. Lovely write-up, Tara.

Iliana said...

I had heard about Miss P so long ago but like you, I wasn't that convinced that the book was for me. How wrong I was. It was such a delightful book. It made me giggle and was just the perfect comfort read. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the movie. I really want to see it now.

Nan - said...

I'm like you, Tara, in that I'm putting off reading it, not because it is popular (I didn't know it was) but because I don't want it to be over. Sort of like Christmas Eve. Sounds so silly when I write it. I do plan to read it quite soon, but I just love seeing it on the table waiting for me. I wonder if other readers are ever like this about a book. I have a Raffaela Barker waiting for me which I feel the same way about.

Becca said...

So glad to hear the movie is worth watching after reading the book. I plan to go this week ... loved the book so was a bit cautious about movie ... but not now! Thanks for the review.

Tara said...

Cath, I actually hurried to see it- I was afraid such a 'niche' film wouldn't appeal to the masses. But it looks as though I was wrong, since I see it opened in many more theaters this weekend.

Jill, I agree and think that is why certain scenes were added. The sets are gorgeous!

Iliana, isn't that funny how we felt that way? I really should learn, because so often I am pleasantly surprised.

Nan, I know exactly what you mean - I hold onto books in the same way, for just the perfect moment so as to savor them.

Becca, I hope you enjoy it! It was such fun.

Robin said...

Tara, I'm the same way about books on the bestseller list, and the policy doesn't serve me well, either. I've run into many really good books that I denied myself for too long because of that aversion to 'bestsellers.' I haven't read Miss Pettigrew yet and haven't seen the movie, so I have both to look forward to!

nutmeg said...

Can't wait for it to show in Australia :-)

raych said...

I read a review for the film, and it kind of perked my interest for the book. Now I'll definitely pick it up. Thanks for the review!

Danielle said...

I'm glad to hear the movie was good, too. I probably won't get to see it until it comes out on DVD, but I'm already looking forward to it.

StuckInABook said...

So jealous, haven't heard hide nor hair of this coming to UK... which seems odd, given that it's a UK book and sold well in UK book charts... tsk.

I do have another Winifred Watson book - Fell Top, but I've yet to read it. Apparently Miss P was very different from the rest of Watson's novels.

Elaine said...

Loved this book and look forward to seeing the film when it finally appears. Apparently this book by Winifred Watson was so different from her others that her publisher was reluctant to publish it saying it would not sell. She told him otherwise and he was proved wrong.

Attended a conference at Newnham College in Cambridge a few years ago when her other books were discussed and parts of them read out. Purple Prose was not in it I can assure you and it was generally felt that Miss Pettigrew is a stand alone novel.

Alison Boon said...

Haven't read the book but it seems everyone enjoys it. I caught someone's blog who had seen the film and that seemed to be a hit too.