Booking It (May Update: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. This month’s book is  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. 

Heads up: if you make a purchase through any Amazon links in this post, I do receive a small percentage of the sale.

Here we are, another month come and gone. And if it weren’t for you, I might not have read a real book with real pages. Thank you for  keeping me “in the real world”.

I’m coming off the heels of a fabulous cross-country visit to meet one of my favorite authors — in real life! Susan Wise Bauer made us coffee in her very own living room. Kinda wild and crazy.

When I leave the cave, I really know how to do it up. I’ll be telling you about all kinds of great books from that trip another time. But, today, it’s Miss Pettigrew’s turn.

A few months ago, I consulted AnneCarrie, and Janel to create a reading list for this year. While I get to share the credit and the blame for whatever books we delve into together, the credit really goes to Anne for suggesting this book. It was a winner!

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I loves this book! I read it last month, actually, and couldn’t put it down. Oh what a fun, fun ride. Think Bing Crosby musical goes abroad.

(I had a childhood crush on Bing. What a tragedy to find out he was as old as my grandfather!)

Miss Pettigrew is an aging, penniless, not-very-good governess stomping the London sidewalks for a job. She has no family and no hope. She was brought up in an ultra-conservative vicar’s home — and thus has certain set opinions about what she can and cannot do. In a few words, her fences are pretty close.

(I’m a firm believer in respecting boundaries — fences — but I think we often make them closer in than may need to be. Sometimes we make the fences closer, sometimes other people do it to us.)

A movie was made of this book a few years ago, but I’m gonna guess that the book is better. ‘Cuz the book was great! I had a lovely escape from reality one weekend, following Miss Pettigrew’s “one day” of adventure outside her comfort zone, outside the fences that have been built around her.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day on IMDB

Warning: there’s drinking and a fair degree of fornication by different characters in the book. These didn’t bother me in the context of the story. If there was “bad language,” I don’t remember it. It must not have shocked me too terribly. I was more distressed by the elements of anti-semitism in the book. This was disappointing, but also a very real (and unfortunate) characteristic of the time period.

As Carrie pointed out, other great books, like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Help, contain objectionable behavior in real life. But that doesn’t necessarily detract from their value as novels.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson is a story of redemption, of love, of daring. And it’s a good example of loving the sinner, but not the sin. I give it two thumbs up.

What else I read

In addition to Miss P. I read a few other things over the last month. It seems that between work and homeschool, it is hard to fit in as much reading as I would like. It’s been a busy couple weeks.

I’ve been reading through The Story of the World with the boys as well as The Betsy-Tacy Treasury with the girls. The boys and I also just started reading The Bronze Bow which we hope to finish by the end of the school year. I’ve read all three of these before and highly recommend them, especially as family read alouds.

Surprisingly, I also got sucked into a memoir that I was sent for review. I’m always skeptical when I am sent books randomly. And Paris in Love sounds kind of random. It’s based on the author’s Facebook updates from the year sabbatical she and her family spent living in Paris. I was surprised, but I liked it a lot! The author is a Shakespeare professor as well as a romance novelist. I can’t vouch for her other books; I gave those up in college.

But, this book was fascinating to me, especially as I hope to take the fam to Paris in a few years. I was sad when the year was over. Not only was it an exploration of life in another country and culture, but an introspective look at family life and what’s most important. Two thumbs up!

Have you been Booking It?

Tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson be sure to tell us what you thought of it.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next up in June – All in Good Time by Tara Kuczykowski and Mandi Ehman.

Disclosure: if you make a purchase through any Amazon links up there, I do receive a small percentage of the sale.

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  1. I just gave Miss Pettigrew a re-read for this month, and it was just as fun the second time. I’m so glad you liked it!

    I linked up a post about books I love for summertime, where I plop Miss Pettigrew in the “happiness” category. I kinda like it there. I love how it’s light, fun and whimsical.–and easy to polish off in a weekend.

  2. Fun & fast-paced Cinderella story. Miss Pettigrew is a 40ish, poor excuse for a governess who knocks on the door of a flamboyant singer/actress one morning and it changes her life forever.

    I really liked it!

    I recommend checking out the publisher:
    it sounds like they have published a number of forgotten books with a updated preface.

  3. I planned on following your “2012 booking it” program for this year, but have somehow gotten off track (well, almost from the start), but I am looking forward to reading this book. Glad to see that you gave it a thumbs up.

  4. You can probably tell that I am not following your suggested list, but I always enjoy reading your reviews and those of the other Booking It readers! This month I read The Story of Ireland by Neil Hegarty – it caught my eye when I went to the library. I have always wanted to know more about my ancestors and this book fit the bill. I read it slowly and took notes because it was important to me to understand the history of Ireland. Besides my own family background, we have had five exchange students from Northern Ireland. I also read The Last Season by Eric Blehm. It was both an adventure story and a mystery as it described the true story of a missing backcountry ranger. I couldn’t put this book down until I had read it all and now my husband is reading it. I have lots of books on my shelves, on my Kindle, and on my list for the library!! My Mother’s Day wish is to have some “me” time today so I can spend it reading.

    1. That’s great! No requirement to read what we read. Just read. 😉

  5. This weekend I finished both Kisses from Katie and the Steve Jobs autobiography. Talk about people from different planets! I found both interesting, but the Jobs book is loooooong! Also read The Hunger Games just because I wanted to read it before my teenage son did. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

    1. “Talk about people from different planets!” That is hilarious!

  6. I loved this book! Thank you for the suggestion. It was fun to have a good new light hearted read. I liked the way Miss Pettigrew rose to the occasion to help. So entertaining.
    I have to mention, I found the movie at our library and was so excited! Alas, as usual, the book is better. They changed the story line (mostly in characters being paired with the wrong individuals!) and I thought the book was good enough without altering the story. Just saying:)

  7. Jessica I think you need to add French by Heart by Rebecca Ramsey to your French reading list. It is a biography about an American family’s adventure of living in France. I am going to have to check out Paris in Love.

  8. Oh dear, I suppose I’m the odd one out in not liking Miss P.

    I would have enjoyed it (it IS light-hearted and well-written) if it weren’t for the vulnerable people I know who have headed down a similar glamorous path into sin and sadnesss. They were tempted by the glamor, the beauty, the lightheartedness. So terribly sad.

    1. I read your review, and I totally understand your perspective. And I see what you mean about that “either/or” thing. In no way would I advocate an abandonment of all moral compass. And in my mind, “the rest of the story” is that Miss P influences and shapes her world as Nick and Delysia get married and live a better life. And of course, she eventually marries the rich guy. 😉

      But, no, we can’t know “the rest” of the story.

      I’ve been one who’s lived in circles — and been influenced by people — who went far beyond the reaches of scripture in order to control people, to very great detriment. “Thus sayeth the Lord” was not a means for bringing folks to godliness, but to exert authority and hurt them. I guess it’s the same thing as your experience — only through very different means. Sin moves both ways. “Morality” or loose living are both tainted by sin.

      Inevitably, I brought that experience to the table and was excited to see Miss Pettigrew leave that small fence and see outside her upbringing.