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The Diary of a Provincial Lady [Paperback]

E.M. Delafield , Jilly Cooper
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

15 Nov 1984 VMC (Book 162)
Behind this rather prim title lies the hilarious fictional diary of a disaster-prone lady of the 1930s, and her attempts to keep her somewhat ramshackle household from falling into chaos: there's her husband Robert, who, when he's not snoozing behind The Times, does everything with grumbling recluctance; her gleefully troublesome children; and a succession of tricky sevants who invariably seem to gain the upper hand. And if her domestic trials are not enough, she must keep up appearances. Particularly with the maddeningly patronising Lady Boxe, whom our Provincial Lady eternally (and unsuccessfully) tries to compete with.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (15 Nov 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860685225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860685227
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


I finished the book in one sitting, leaving the children unbathed, dogs unwalked, a husband unfed, and giving alternate cries of joy and recognition throughout (Jully Cooper)

I reread, for the nth time, E. M. Delafield's dry, caustic Diary of a Provincial Lady, and howled with laughter (India Knight)

Glorious, simply glorious (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

She converts the small and familiar dullness of life into laughter (The TIMES)

Book Description

* A delightful and witty celebration of the suburban British housewife

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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November 7th.-Plant the indoor bulbs. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment 4 Jan 2009
I have loved 'Diary of a Provincial Lady' for years, so when this edition appeared on my Amazon 'suggestions for you' page, I immediately put it on my Christmas list.
I assumed that when I clicked on the 'Look inside' button, I was indeed looking inside that edition - specifically at the contents page, which showed all three of the 'Diaries'. Not so. I, and the donor, were bitterly disappointed to find that this beautiful Cath Kidston covered edition is only the first 'Diary' and does NOT include the other two. I contacted Amazon and was told I should have researched more carefully before placing an order.

So if you think you are buying a trilogy - you aren't! I would not have gone for this edition if I had realised that it was only one 'Diary'. I would have looked for the trilogy instead.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it again and again - and still love it! 14 July 2007
"Robert says nothing". But what was he thinking?

The Provincial Lady fascinates me: her way of life, her comments about the social standards predominating before the last war. It could all be rather boring but somehow the way she talks isn't. And I catch something different everytime I re-read the book or listen to the audio cassettes.

There were still shades of the the PL's world left during my childhood in the early 1950's: the baker and grocer still called; my Mum wrote and posted copious notes to companies - ordering, complaining, thanking - as well as writing regular long letters to relatives and friends (she rarely used the phone as it was too expensive); the dreaded visit to the bank manager when finances got tight; everything paid cash and careful records kept of income and expednditure which had to balance every week.
My father was very much head of the house and everything was referred to him - unlike Robert though, he said a good deal, most of it critical.

I would recommend the Provincial Lady books to my future daughter-in-law as a good read, and I hope she would find them just as fascinating. The humour and the quality of the writing must surely appeal to any generation.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I just love this book...... 19 Feb 2004
warm, witty and although it was originally published in the thirties I can still relate to the main character much more than I can relate to Bridget Jones. Some great episodes, especially with the trips to the pawnbroker! A really good bedtime book as it can be read in small chunks, and isn't too demanding of tired brains!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is in fact three volumes collected into one. They are the amusing diaries of a middle-class Englishwoman covering the 1930s and wartime. While they are not really laugh out loud they do bring a smile, often of recognition. The simple domestic incidents are retold very much in the style that most of us use to tell of funny things that happen to us - a bit flippant and exagerated. This book is best read in small doses (it originally appeared as a series of features in a magazine). I would recommend this book most highly.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars social and feminist history in a humorous package 18 April 2006
This diary, plus the later ones in which the author visits America and then works in a forces' canteen in wartime, is a fascinating glimpse of what life was like for a middle class woman in the 1930s. My favourite snippet, from ...Goes Further, is when she visits Boston and at a party asks a young man if he thinks television will ever become a part of everyday life. He looks at her as if she were mad!

The humour is intelligent and infectious and the narrative voice very real despite the 'diary' style.

Don't miss it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly funny!!!! 1 Feb 2007
If you buy only one book in your life, make sure its this one. I have read five times (something I never usually do) and always find something in it that I missed previously. It makes me belly laugh out loud every time. Full of truly wonderful characters from Our Vicars Wife to Helen Wheels the cat. It's a real treasure and one that I will take with me through life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read but WHY JILLY COOPER? 17 April 2009
I enjoyed this book immensely and have since recommended to my mum and Gran. The Cath Kidson design is beautiful and it was a pleasure to read. However, I must take issue with the introduction by Jilly Cooper - please do not read. I stopped after several pages having suddenly realised her 'introduction' seemed to consist of re-telling various stories from the book (but, I subsequently learnt, in a less funny and enjoyable way). Why? She has lost the book a whole star.

Once I started on the book itself, it was just the trick for a long train journey. This is one I will definitely re-read and am about to search Amazon for any other books by Ms Delafield.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diary of a Provincial Lady. 11 Feb 2013
By Pb
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my wife and she is devouring it. Absolutely loves it. Says it is one of the best reads.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
lovely book indeed
Published 27 days ago by M. Scarf
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming and witty
This charming period piece is deceptively clever: funny, insightful and at times rather wistful. The characters bounce from the page and into your mind, and as a window into a lost... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jane
4.0 out of 5 stars intelligently written
Lovely chatty, intelligently written book
Published 1 month ago by Sealia
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing secondhand book purchase
actual second hand book description did not come up to expectations

TATTY would be my description of this book, dog eared and yellowing pages
I will not be buying... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jean on the farm
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book.
I found this a very interesting insight into one woman's life living in very different conditions from what I personally do today and I am sure many others do.
Published 8 months ago by Terrence Young
4.0 out of 5 stars "I am writing my Diary. Robert replies kindly but quite definitely...
Wonderful little 1930 work, cataloguing the minutiae of the narrator's life in a highly humorous and pithy manner. Read more
Published 10 months ago by sally tarbox
3.0 out of 5 stars Not actually that great!
I bought this book after reading the reviews and found the writing in it terribly staid. Its very old fashioned but hasn't aged well at all!
Published 13 months ago by MISS KEWISH
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated, yet still relevant.
I found the language in the book very irritating.
However, the main subject of the book was such an interesting character that it made it worth reading. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Anni of MK
5.0 out of 5 stars A Witty fun read
A lovely book, very witty. Not what you think it is! The book club loved it, thank to Corrine for the heads up on this one ;)
Published 17 months ago by mec
4.0 out of 5 stars Favourite book
This was originally bought for me 25 years ago by my late father, based on a review he had read. It is an account of the minutae of daily life for a middle class lady in the 1930s... Read more
Published 17 months ago by chillidonna
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