Miss Pettigrew lives for a day

I have long wished that I loved Persephone books. The ambition of publishing lost books, mostly by women writing in the first half of the 20th century, is great, and the books are published as attractive soft cover volumes. The quality is a bit variable but that is not the main problem either, I gladly read books by much worse authors if the plot includes a murder. Instead I fear that it is a matter of taste, having previously tried four of them I found three rather boring. The fourth, Miss Buncle’s book, was a lightweight comfort read, but really rather sweet. That was the only one I kept.

However, it being Read Independent Publishers Month, I thought I would give them one final chance, this time with Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, their bestseller. The story is a classical Cinderella story about poor and jobless Miss Pettigrew who accidentally ends up in a world of glitz and glamour. Hardly an original story, but the Cinderella trope is popular for a reason, and the result is rather charming and uplifting. A lightweight read, with a few casually racist remarks of the kind common in books from the 1930s, but other than that I did enjoy it.

While I am still not really a converted Persephone fan, they do have many loyal followers, so if you do enjoy early 20th century fiction you might want to give them a try. They have a clear publishing profile so if you like one of them there is a good chance that you will like several other.

15 thoughts on “Miss Pettigrew lives for a day

    1. I might not have loved it but I did enjoy it, which was all I expected from it. I don’t think I’m the right audience for Persephone, but I will probably hold onto both Miss Pettigrew and Miss Buncle, and may even reread them if I’m in the mood for something undemanding and cheerful.

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  1. i too find Persephone’s rather comfortable, but enjoy those I read intermittently. i would say, however, read Dorothy Hughes’s The Expendable Man. There’s nothing comfortable about it at all.

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  2. There are definitely some uncomfortable Persephones – Little Boy Lost, The Expendable Man, William. I also like the social history ones – Round About A Pound A Week, etc. But then I like the comfy ones, too!

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    1. I’m sure that they have some titles I might have liked, and I’m very happy that they have found a niche that works for them because I really like the concept. But I think I will have better luck with the British Library Crime Classics and Slightly Foxed for my comfort reads and to Peirene Press when I want something uncomfortable.

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  3. I remember reading about this novel when it came out in this edition and thinking it sounded interesting. I might yet give it a try as, despite its Cinderella trope, it seems to have broken the mould for the times it first appeared.

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    1. I like the Cinderella trope, it may not be original but it is satisfying, and I definitely suspect that some of the morals in the novel were shocking at the time. If you want a fun light read it is not a bad choice.

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  4. The two Persephones I have read are Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home Maker and Saplings by Noel Streatfeild. Neither are comfort reads, as they end quite sadly, and I don’t know that I would read them again, but they were interesting social/psychological critiques for the time. I saw the Miss Pettigrew movie and enjoyed it a lot though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess when it comes to social critique I’m just more interested in Swedish authors, and the Swedish early 20th century authors tend to be a lot less comfortable. Especially since many of them belonged to the proletarian literature movement.

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