“Miss Pettigrew pushed open the door of the employment agency and went in as the clock struck a quarter past nine. She had, as usual, very little hope, but to-day the Principal greeted her with a more cheerful smile. ‘Ah! Miss Pettigrew. I think we have something for you to-day. Two came in when I had left last night. Now let me see. Ah yes! Mrs. Hilary, maid. Miss LaFosse, nursery governess. Hmn! You’d have thought it was the other way round. But there! I expect she’s an aunt with an adopted orphan niece, or something.'”
Miss Pettigrew has spent her life serving other people’s children. She has been starved of both nourishment and love, and now has lost another position. She’s down to her last hope when divine intervention sends her to Miss LaFosse. Miss Delysia LaFosse is a singer with the unfortunate problem of having too many suitors and not enough willpower. From the moment of Miss Pettigrew’s arrival, she begins to aid Miss LaFosse in getting her life straightened out. In return, Miss LaFosse introduces her to the courage inducing effects of alcohol, the society life, and the wonders a makeover can do. Before 24 hours have elapsed, both women’s lives will be drastically changed by Miss Pettigrew’s actions.
Yes, this is the same book the movie was made from, and surprisingly – the movie follows the book quite accurately. With the exception of adding a few additional villains. Miss Pettigrew is an amazing character, blossoming into a completely different person when she has a drink of alcohol – a take charge person. Miss LaFosse (played by the delightful Amy Adams in the film) is exuberant and youthful, and completely unable to stand up for herself. She knows how to use her good looks and charms to her advantage, but is unable to protect herself against being taken advantage of. And Miss Pettigrew has just enough moral fortitude to keep her from completely destroying her life.
Written in segments that cover a 24 hour day, this follows the pair of women as they carouse their way from party to club to apartment and back again, working their hardest to get Delysia’s life to turn out for the best. You can’t help but root for every character in this story, they are all lovable and endearing in their own ways. This is a great example of early chick lit – and much more entertaining than some of the books out there nowadays.
“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” was written by Winifred Watson and published in 1938.