It’s hard to begin reviewing this book without stopping to admire the small press that publishes it. I am a huge fan of all small presses for keeping authors alive who might otherwise simply fade into obscurity and be all but forgotten. Or, as in this author’s case, because she was forgotten, bringing them back to life to a new generation of readers who would otherwise never have known them. So I hope if you’re reading this you’ll continue to the section below where I talk about Persephone Press.
But now: a word for Miss Pettigrew. Poor Miss Pettigrew, a down on her luck middle-aged governess who can seem to do no right. Until, of course, her employment agency sends her on a call not to a household of unruly children but to a nightclub singer who changes her life entirely in a mere 24 hours. And just to believe for a moment that it is “never too late” is the sheer joy of this delightful book. Never has a case of mistaken identity been so charming. Cinderella, move over. This book was made into a movie starring Frances McDormand who, in this reviewer’s opinion, can do no wrong. While the movie is delightful the book is superior and it is a highly recommended read with a Sidecar in one hand and, dare I say it? A cigarette in the other. Live. Live. Live!
I can not say enough about my own adoration for Persephone Books. Without them there are so many authors I never would have found. In their own words, from their Website: “Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget.”
Winifred Watson believed in this book with all her heart but had some struggle finding a publisher for it. It was published, finally, in 1938 and was received with great acclaim. But in 1941 Winifred Watson stopped writing entirely to take care of her son. She lived, quite quietly, in Newcastle for the rest of her life.