Boy, those Pettigrews, of the British Pettigrews, sure do get around. It wasn’t so long ago that I read about a Major Pettigrew, and now Miss Pettigrew pops up, having been born in a 1938 novel. and wouldn’t you know it, it was made into a movie in 2008, starring Frances McDormand. I really have to get out more. I am falling seriously behind the modern cultural zeitgeist.
Miss Pettigrew, a sweet, unemployed spinster, is on her last knot on the rope she is hanging onto. She is a governess, and hates it, but it is all she is suitable for. She goes without much hope to her employment agency, and miracle of miracles, they have a post to send her for an interview. She arrives to find a happy-go-lucky young woman just getting out of bed, and trying to get rid of her bed partner before her real boyfriend returns. She had contacted the agency for a maid, and the agency got the postings for the maid and for the governess mixed up and sent Miss Pettigrew to the wrong address.
Prim and prissy Miss Pettigrew is shocked, needless to say, and nothing is mentioned about the job, but the young woman begs her help in gracefully moving out the current occupant. Miss Pettigrew calls on her experience with imperious women employers, and channels a particularly stern one which she uses to good effect.
From there on, she is swept along into the life of the young woman, gaining confidence and good looks as a friend of the young woman does her hair and makeup, and fist her out in some borrowed fancy clothes so they can all go out together.
It is a modern day fairy tale, a little Cinderella, a little Ugly Duckling, a little Brothers Grimm cautionary fable . Delightful reading, with all with the sweetness and dare I say innocence of British fiction of that era. I don’t want to give you too much of the plot, you can google it for yourself if you haven’t already seen the movie. And I can totally see Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew. I think I was born in the wrong era. Oh, wait. They didn’t have Kindles back then. Never mind.