12 January, 2014 by katelaity
The Big Splash, my jazz age novella is out this Thursday from Tirgearr Publishing. While I plan the next novella, I’ve been re-reading a favourite novel, one of the primary inspirations for my Constance & Collier characters. Yes, I know you know P. G. Wodehouse (another direct inspiration of course) but do you know about Winifred Watson?
Most people who do, likely do so because of the fun film version of Watson’s novel Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. But not enough of them read the novel itself. I had been thinking of the book and wishing I’d thought to bring my copy with me to Scotland when I saw it on the shelf at the charity shop. I certainly needed no further inducement — it was work as well as kismet I argue (the other books I bought, um…)
Watson’s novel has everything I want to achieve in the Constance & Collier stories: breezy, witty, madcap and just a little racy (the real naughtiness will be in the reader’s mind). Above everything, it must be fun. That’s what Watson achieves and like Wodehouse, makes it all seem effortless. And all writers know, that requires so much work.
Let me dip into the novel and catch a few shiny bons mots:
Miss Pettigrew cast a sternly disapproving eye about her, but behind her disapproval stirred a strange sensation of excitement. This was the kind of room in which one did things and strange events occurred and amazing creatures…lived vivid, exciting, hazardous lives.
‘…such ardent kisses. Not at all proper.’ But her traitorous female heart turned right over in her body and thoroughly sympathised with the look of wholehearted enjoyment registered by Miss LaFosse’s face.
‘I’m a rabbit,’ said Miss LaFosse, ‘and he’s a snake. When a snake fixes a rabbit with its eyes, the rabbit has no will. It stays there. It wants to stay there, even if it does mean its death.’
[Having been offered a drink] Miss Pettigrew nearly said, ‘Oh, no thank you,’ in a flutter of genteel denial. But she didn’t. Not her. Not now. She stopped herself just in time: just in time. She was going to accept now everything that came along. From this one day, dropped out of the blue into her lap, she was going to savour everything it offered her.
‘Me?’ said Miss Pettigrew faintly.
‘I haven’t any.’
‘No make-up,’ said Miss Dubarry shocked. ‘Why? It’s indecent, walking around naked.’ Miss Pettigrew stared at her blankly. Her mind was whirling: her thoughts chaotic. A mental upheaval rendered her dizzy. Yes, why? All these years and she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose. Others had experienced that joy. Never she. And all because she lacked courage.
If you are not charmed and rushing out to buy the book now, I suspect you lack sparkle. Do amend that at once. Get to know Miss Watson and her charming creation.