I’m excited to be included on the Bookworm Carnival hosted by Jessica at bluestockings.com. She posted my lit-flicks-150x150last entry for the Lit Flick challenge on Inkheart. I almost didn’t make it because of my chronic procrastination problem, which you might think I would have worked on more by now. I hadn’t checked her blog for awhile out of guilt because I still have 3 posts to do by Feb 28! Of course, I did start late, but that’s only one excuse 😉 So, with no further babble, let me present #3…and expect 2 more in the next week!

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics
) by Winifred Watson

I picked this one up at the library upon the recommendation of my blogger friend Dy, at Dy’s Mind’s Eye, way back in December. I actually started and stopped and renewed and paid late fees, but once I got back into it, it really was a fun, quick read. The plot actually follows the protagonist’s life-changing adventures for one day, and the chapters are in time intervals.

Miss Guinivere Pettigrew is an average woman who has little pleasure in life, working unsuccessfully as a governess and choosing to watch other people enjoy life in high-society and on film. In one day, she makes a series of choices that completely change her life. Though a lot of the plot centers on parties and romance, there really are underlying themes about women’s roles, society’s mores, and joie de vivre. It is the kind of book that can actually inspire one to look at life a little differently. The simplistic view is that life can be fun, but not if you live it according to other people’s expectations. We should make our own choices and enjoy it. Though it is from another era, the story is timeless.

First of all, I love finding new-to-me books  by unsung writers from literary history. A lot of women writers especially, winifred_watsonlike Winifred Watson, from past generations have been forgotten or ignored, though some groups and companies like Persephone Books are remedying that by reissuing books and reintroducing them to the world. They republished this book in 2000, two years before the author passed away. I hope she got some sense of closure in her life, rather than being completely forgotten [for fellow writers this may give us added hope too! It’s never too late to be discovered!] Reading the biography included in the new edition was an extra bonus, to learn about Ms. Watson. She wrote a few books, and did enjoy recognition in her lifetime, but completely stopped writing after becoming a mother…[!]…Knowing how hard it is to juggle mommyhood with work/house/life and add writing to the mix, I can only imagine how Ms. Watson came to such a decision. She is quoted as saying “You cannot write when you are never alone.” How well I know the feeling. She also had tragedies from WWII to contend with and I am sure that there was some sense of duty to family and country, rather than writing  novels… all the more reason to be glad for the reissue.

That being said, I am almost glad that she did not live to see the film, though it is beneficial in promoting the book and, on its own, is a very fun film. So, that sounds confusing. Let me clarify: The film Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, directed by Bharat Nalluri and starring Oscar-winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Miss Pettigrew, is based on the novel, but not true to it. It is really its own entity, and for most viewers who don’t read the book, it will delight as a charming story about living life and finding love. There are great Thirties costumes, music {Amy Adams co-stars as Delysia LaFosse, Miss P’s new BFF and a nightclub singer} and yes, a happy, romantic ending.

However (gripe, gripe), they changed the story; even though the book was practically begging to be a screenplay, apparently it had to be adjusted for modern audiences. So, Dy saw the film first, loved it and ran to get the book. I read it first and probably ruined my own viewing pleasure, because then I found myself ripping it apart at the loose plot-seams. Maybe I would have felt differently if I had watched the film first, but I am a firm believer that the book is always better and I cannot help my critical self. It just drives me nuts when the perfectly good plot gets realigned so much. And it just seems to happen more often than not. Maybe next time I should wait to read the book after seeing a film.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will state that the most annoying change, to me, is that of the character of Miss Edythe DuBarry. In the book, she is a friend and an ally. She is a delightfully crass, independent businesswoman. She rocks. In the film, she is manipulative, kind of tacky, and well, a bitch. I love the actress who plays her {Shirley Henderson, who is awesome in everything, but will always be Moaning Myrtle to me}, and she does a fine job presenting the role written for her, but I cannot help but wonder if she read the book and noticed the discrepancy too, because she doesn’t look too happy about it. The other thing I kept noticing while watching the film was that the screenplay puts a lot more emphasis on the looming war with Germany than Ms. Watson did at all. Of course, she was writing while events were unfolding and the references do help set the time and setting better, but still, I think Hollywood and associates have an obsession with war and like to add it in as a theme even where it does not need to be. The story of a woman discovering herself in a tumultuous era and breaking out of a mundane shell of propriety and boredom really is a good enough story without war and pain. At least to me it is.

FYI: The Carnival also comes with a meme, which I think I answered above :)…and I pass on to you below… so the debate is on-TAG!

The Carnival Meme

To help spread the word about this edition of the carnival, answer the following question on your own blog: Do you prefer to read the book first or see the movie first?

Upcoming Editions of the Carnival

Edition 24 hosted by: Tracy at Book Room Reviews
Deadline for submission: February 27, 2009
Theme: Young Adult Literature
To submit a post, email: bookroomreviews at hotmail dot com

Edition 25 hosted by: Jennifer at Quiverfull Family
Deadline for submission: March 13, 2009
Theme: Parenting (fiction or non-fiction)
To submit a post, email: jennifer at quiverfullfamily dot com

Edition 26 hosted by: 1MoreChapter
Deadline for submission: March 27, 2009
Theme: Book Awards
To submit a post, email: 3m.michelle at gmail dot com

BTW: I am also posting this on the companion Lit Flick challenge at Bitchin Film Reviews, the blog run by Jessica’s bro, Blake. The emphasis there is more on film than lit, and he has tons more movie reviews and info for film buffs. And I will have 2 more posts soon! They are already written in my head 🙂