The Diary of a Provincial Lady is a brilliantly observed comic novel, as funny and fresh today as when it was first written. It’s not easy being a Provincial Lady in Devonshire in the 1920s, juggling a grumpy husband, mischievous children and a host of domestic dilemmas – from rice mould to a petulant cook. But this Provincial Lady will not be defeated; not by wayward flower bulbs, not by unexpected houseguests, not even by the Blitz. She will continue to preside over the W.I., endure rain-drenched family picnics and succeed as a published author, all the while tending to her strawberries.
This is such a charming novel.
I hadn’t heard of E.M. Delafield before, but she came up several times over the course of a week, so I thought I should probably check her out, as the novel sounded like something I’d definitely enjoy.
I got this on my Kindle, and was pretty happy that the price was super low, but the formatting was atrocious. There were spelling errors, line spacing issues, and the biography at the beginning was pulled from Wikipedia, despite it supposedly being a Penguin Modern Classic edition… right. Maybe Penguin’s classics department got lazy. Who needs formatting anyway? But I digress…
Besides that, and an extremely abrupt beginning (I actually had to get a friend to check their copy to see if mine started in the right place! Already knew by page one that the file was dodgy!) the book was really lovely.
The Provincial Lady is someone I’d really like to be friends with- she feels like she doesn’t quite belong in the city literati lifestyle of her best friend, Rose, but she also doesn’t quite belong in her provincial life in Cornwall. She’s never really read the right books or has the right dress, plus she’s got a bit of a shopping addiction. She also doesn’t really feel like her family is quite right- they’re never as clever or well behaved as the fashionable people’s children. Her husband is boring, rude and bad tempered, making her life just that much better… and don’t even get her started on the neighbours.
The diary format is well executed and classy, with loads of funny asides and moments. I really enjoyed the whole thing, so was a bit disappointed that it was so short…but at least there’s sequels to enjoy!