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The Diary of a Provincial Lady [Omnibus] by…

The Diary of a Provincial Lady [Omnibus]

by E. M. Delafield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Provincial Lady (Omnibus 1-4)

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English (15)  Catalan (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Captures in an amusing and light-hearted, but nonetheless perspicacious way the trials of a rural middle class wife and mother of the mid 20th century. 12 December 2017. ( )
  alanca | Jan 5, 2018 |
This edition is in fact four different "Provincial Lady" diaries, including later ones in which she goes on a book tour in America and tries to sign up for "suitable" war work in 1939. Each of these was very entertaining and provided quite a clear picture of life in Devon and London in the 20s and on to 1939. The humour (and it is very funny in a dry way) is unchanging in its tone and I think there might be something to be said for not reading all four parts in one go.

I enjoyed the first couple of parts the most as the tone married the best with the subject matter - the Provincial lady has nothing much to do other than receive visitors, wonder where all her money goes and fret about her inability to manage her servants. The tour of America was quite different and I was mildly interested in her impressions of the US and Canada. The last diary was troubling to me and I think came to an end at a good time. I just don't see how the author could have continued in this style as the 19 year old Robin would inevitably have been called up and joined the war.

I did enjoy Robert and his ability to convey so much by saying so little (or indeed nothing). ( )
  pgchuis | Feb 4, 2016 |
I picked this book up in Frome library when I’d just popped in to return something and it caught my eye (I later found it on my Amazon wish list, added several years ago!). I didn’t realise this edition was only the first part until I went into Waterstone’s in Exeter and spotted it on the shelf – four times the size I was expecting!

The Diary of a Provincial Lady is very loosely based on the life of the author - her pen name was a play-on-words of her real name - Edmée Elizabeth Monica de la Pasture - and is told in diary form (a sort of forerunner to Bridget Jones’s Diary?!). It tells of the day-to-day life of the titular lady, her long-suffering, dour, husband Robert and two lively and energetic children, Robin and Vicky, an upper-middle class family living in rural Devon and, at times, struggling to keep up socially with their neighbours. This, the first diary, is set before World War Two.

Although loosely autobiographical, Delafield actually lived quite a comfortable life and was a debutante in 1909. She was asked by the editor of the British magazine Time and Tide to write a series for them and this was the result!

The Provincial Lady moves in social circles that are often slightly higher than her own, necessitating very careful juggling of her finances (including the occasional discrete visit to the pawnbroker) and chronicles her exploits with the locals and an endless stream of visitors to the house.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I did think it might be a bit dull – or maybe something suited to an older person (which just goes to show that one should never judge a book without trying it) so I was happily surprised to find it was an entertaining read which had me chuckling out loud in places including such gems as…

(taking about a letter from Lady B saying she’s only just heard the PL has measles)
“[Lady B writes] She cannot come herself to enquire, as with so many visitors always coming and going it wouldn’t be wise, but if I want anything from the House, I am to telephone without hesitation. She has given ‘her people’ orders that anything I ask for is to be sent up. Have a very good mind to telephone and ask for a pound of tea and Lady B’s pearl necklace – (Could Cleopatra be quoted as precedent here?) – and see what happens.”

I imagine that it will get a bit ‘samey’ but I very much enjoyed this and I am definitely going to read the other parts of it.
( )
  Bagpuss | Jan 17, 2016 |
Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield was originally published in 1930 and although dated, the wry, self-depreciating humor of a mother trying to run a house, deal with a remote husband and raise two children still has facets that ring true today. This is a light, amusing read that is chock full of peculiar characters amid the varied incidents that a occur in an rural English village. As the main character muddles through her daily life, from cocktail hour to picnics, the author skilfully mocks the narrow village society that she moves in and one can’t help but be reminded of both Stella Gibbons and E.F. Benson with dashes of P.G. Wodehouse thrown in.

I have come to realize that I am a fan of these gentle satires that lightly ridicule while at the same time leave us with both a fascination and admiration for both the times and this type of lifestyle. In Diary of a Provincial Lady the authors’ deft writing and light touch make this book a gem about domestic life in the 1930’s. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 14, 2015 |
diary of a provincial lady
the provincial lady goes further
the provincial lady in america
the provincial lady in wartime
some parts were tedious, some parts very good. sometimes pretentious, life with servants didn't seem to save that much time. ( )
  mahallett | Dec 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. M. Delafieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beauman, NicolaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooper, JillyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, Kate CruiseForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to the Editor and the Directors of Time and Tide, in whose pages this diary first appeared (Diary of a Provincial Lady)
For Cass Canfield (The Provincial Lady Goes Further)
Affectionately dedicated
Peter Stucley
because of our long friendship
and as a tribute to many shared recollections
of Moscow, London, Edinburgh
and the West Country
First words
November 7th---Plant the indoor bulbs. (Diary of a Provincial Lady)
June 9th.--Life takes on entirely new aspect, owing to astonishing and unprecedented success of minute and unpretentious literary effort, published last December, and--incredibly--written by myself. (The Provincial Lady Goes Further)
July 7th.--Incredulous astonishment on receiving by second post--usually wholly confined to local bills and circulars concerning neighbouring Garden Fêtes--courteous and charming letter from publishers in America. (The Provincial Lady in America)
September 1st, 1939.--Enquire of Robert whether he does not think that, in view of times in which we live, diary of daily events might be of ultimate historical value to posterity. (The Provincial Lady in Wartime)
The Diary of a Provincial Lady is about ordinariness: the kind of placid, conformist ordinariness evoked by this exchange between the two women in E. M. Delafield's first play, To See Ourselves--produced on the London stage in the same month, December 1930, that the Provincial Lady first made her appearance in book form. (Introduction)
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
The Diary of a Provincial Lady and Diary of a Provincial Lady are not the same book! Please do not combine them. The first is an omnibus edition containing volumes 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the Provincial Lady series. The second contains only the first work in that series. Several editions of the omnibus have been incorrectly entered with the wrong title. If this applies to you, please change the title of your copy instead of combining the two works together.
However, there is one editon (ISBN 1844085228, the VMC Anniversary Edition) that is titled The Diary of a Provincial Lady but contains only Diary of a Provincial Lady and is not the omnibus edition. (I can't help it if publishers do this!!!!)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0860685225, Diary)

The Provincial Lady has a nice house, a nice husband (usually asleep behind The Times), and nice children. In fact, maintaining Niceness is the Provincial Lady’s goal in life—her raison d'être. She never raises her voice, rarely ventures outside Devon (why would she?), only occasionally allows herself to become vexed by the ongoing servant problem, and would be truly appalled by the confessional mode that has gripped the late 20th century. The Provincial Lady, after all, is part of what made Britain great.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The goal of the provincial lady is to maintain 'niceness', whether it be in the home, relationships or personal behaviour. 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' first published in the 1930s is a witty celebration of the suburban British housewife between the wars.… (more)

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