Sunday, December 7, 2008

Miss Pettigrew pushed open the door of the employment agency...

I hereby join the ranks of Persephone Books fans. It is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day that's done it. There's something not quite modern about the numbered list of books in the back and the suggestion that you email, telephone, or write to them for a copy of their catalogue. And the London address. I'm a hopeless American, but I will always find London addresses unreasonably pleasing. It's as if the physical book itself is allowing me to step into the book I'm reading. Miss Pettigrew would have read a book that is put together such as this one. It doesn't hurt, either, that the outside of the book is very pretty.

I've already seen the film of Miss Pettigrew, for which I'm somewhat sorry. The mood of the film is quite the same as the book, but the progression of events is really rather different. I can't help thinking the movie is put together more roundly--Miss Pettigrew running into Michael, meeting Joe before she's been prettified, the entire running gag of her not quite getting anything to eat. I suppose, really, it's more theatrical. This definitely works for the movie, but I think the fact that the book isn't like this does more for the book. It enhances the feeling of the events hurtling onward--someone will ring the doorbell and a whole new adventure will step inside.

I love Miss Pettigrew. I think she's someone that absolutely everyone identifies with in some way, and we all want to be her without being really envious of her. She's the perfect main character, in that way. And she's so quietly gleeful.

The descriptions are not vivid in the way some books are, the clothes are described from Miss Pettigrew's view of not knowing one fashion designer from any other, and with the kind of frank prose that is used through the whole book. Still, it made me desperately want to be wearing some lovely '30s or '40s clothing and have my hair curled. That's probably why I went shopping, yesterday. Books are a dangerous thing!

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