Review: The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield

My Review:
Diary_of_a_Prov_Lady_for_website_1This is another great classic brought to us by the small British publisher, Persephone Books.  The book is a detailed daily journal of a woman who is trying to the best wife, mother, neighbor and friend as possible.  She has two young children, Robin and Vicky, whom despite her best efforts to the contrary she tends to spoil. One of the funniest scenes in the book is that in which Robin talks her into playing the piano, the gramophone, a music box and letting the clock chime all at once; in the midst of this walks an uninvited guest, the aloof and snobby Lady B.  The trials placed on our provincial lady will resonate with all mothers struggling on a daily basis to raise kind and polite children.

There are a plethora of interesting characters that the lady tells us about.  Lady B., her aristocratic and aloof friend is always dropping in on the lady at the most inopportune times and giving the lady ridiculous and useless advice.  Lady B. does not have the same financial restraints or familial duties as the author of the diary, so humorous quips about Lady B. are sprinkled throughout the diary.  The Vicar’s wife is also a frequent visitor; she is one of those people who claims that they are only stopping by for a minute but are still hanging around three hours later.

The lady’s diary also tells the reader of her monosyllabic, disinterested and rather ill-natured husband, Robert.  Robert has very little to do with the children, expect to complain when they are too loud or too messy.  His favorite pastime is to fall asleep while reading the paper.  This edition of the book contains drawings of different characters in the book and there is a great illustration of Robert asleep in his favorite chair.

The diary has several recurring themes which the lady must constantly struggle against: unruly servants, insufficient money, negative remarks about her personal appearance and constant pressure to keep up with the latest trends.  The lady deals with all of these things with remarkable calm and manages to keep any rude or deprecating comments to her diary.

I highly recommend THE DIARY OF A PROVINCIAL LADY as another humorous and entertaining read from Persephone Books.

About The Author:
Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture (9 June 1890 – 2 December 1943), commonly known as E. M. Delafield,was a prolific English author who is best-known for her largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which took the form of a journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s, and its sequels in which the Provincial Lady buys a flat in London and travels to America. Other sequels of note are her experiences looking for war-work during the Phoney War in 1939, and her experiences as a tourist in the Soviet Union.



Filed under British Literature, Classics, Humor, Persephone Books

7 responses to “Review: The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield

  1. poppypeacockpens

    I picked this up at the weekend as a hopefully humourous & light relief read between more gritty choices – sounds like it’ll do the job nicely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jonathan

    This does sound like fun. A bit like ‘Diary of a Nobody’?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am reading her “Thank Heaven Fasting” which tells of the trials of Monica (herself) navigating her first year (debut) in society, where she is expected to obey her mother, make fashionable friends, and find a husband. I detoured into this little book by Delafield on my way to the “Diary.” Her writing is smooth, flowing like punch at a party, and all the young ones’ discomforts are so keenly observed. I look forward to reading this more well- known book of hers next.

    Liked by 1 person

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