Now I don’t tend to read happy books. This may sound like an odd statement, and yet it’s too often true. I enjoy heart-wrenching books, books that tear your soul a little bit, and so sometimes I end up reading nothing but sad books for weeks on end. There’s occasionally a little burst of Dickensian or Austenite happiness, but I for the most part I read dark books, grim books, books that are liable to make you cry on the train to work. Reading Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I remembered the beauty of happy books, of books that only make you want to cry with joy.
Published in 1938, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day tells the story of Miss Pettigrew, a middle-aged impoverished nanny. In search of a new position, she ends up knocking on the door of the young and beautiful Miss LaFosse, and is suddenly drawn into a new and different world. For just one day, Miss Pettigrew’s steps into Miss LaFosse’s Bohemian and dramatic life. She is astounded and excited, and astounds those around her. It’s like if a (less perfect) Mary Poppins met and got caught up with Evelyn Waugh’s Bright Young Things and decided to just go with it. It is beautiful.