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The Diary of a Provincial Lady [Paperback]

E.M. Delafield , Jilly Cooper
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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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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The Diary of a Provincial Lady + Lolly Willowes (VMC)
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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,588 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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diary of a Provincial Lady 7 Nov 2012
By Tee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was quite hard going at times especially the section where the character visited America. It was cleverly written and quite humorous, the characters thoughts were very witty in places. I was disappointed with the ending as fizzled away to nothing and ended at a point in time that was neither here nor there, but I understand there is a follow on book so presume this book will begin at this point. I can't say I am overly anxious to read the next book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 2 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 6 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 8 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 11 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 14 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 15 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 15 months ago by chillidonna
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
I have only just received this and haven't even read it yet so do not have any comments. blah blah
Published 18 months ago by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read
One of those books which is a joy to read. Paperback version fits into ones handbag and can be read, or reread, so easily.
Published 20 months ago by Kizzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment
I had hoped to receive an illustrated copy. The one you sent was beautifully clean and crisp but lacked the essential illustrations.
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. R. Hussey
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