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on 1 July 2010
But this one is not nearly as amusing as EMD's later and far more famous creation. Laura is 34 and has been married to Alfred for seven years, and although she is a moderately successful writer, she can't think of anything to say to him other than chat about their children.
Nicola Beauman, in her introduction, wonders if this novel can be appreciated by readers other than middleclass married women with children ... and as I fall outside this group, maybe that's why I struggled with it. Like the other provincial lady, Laura has a large house and not enough money to keep up appearances; she struggles to keep servants and is worn out if she has to mind her own children for even a few hours. She realises that she was never in love with her husband, but she wanted the status of being a married woman. She appreciates what Alfred has done for her - but then a whole new vista opens up when she meets Duke Ayland who offers not sex, but emotional engagement.
Nicola Beauman obviously feels that women readers will sympathise with Laura: 'We can laugh at Alfred; we can smile wryly; or we can absolutely loathe him,' she says.
Actually, it was Alfred for whom I felt sympathy ... Laura is shackled by middleclass respectability, but it can't have been much fun for the men who were married to women like this! No wonder they'd sooner finish the crossword than have sex!
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on 30 May 2015
Rather a sad little story about Laura who finds what she hopes is love, after years of marriage and two children. Her life has become dull and unexciting and her biggest interest is finding the right staff. She felt she had nothing to look forward too. I did feel sorry for her, but I felt her situation was possibly quite common, and if it hadn't been Duke Ayland then any man who made her feel someone and alive she might easily have fallen for.
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on 25 July 2014
I really enjoyed reading it, following on from the Diary of a Provincial Lady. It's rather sadder, and despite the passage of time, there are still many women (and men) caught in a passionfree long term relationship and unexciting lifestyle, who yearn for attention, romance, and a different kind of fulfilment. Some reviewers sympathise with Alfred, the good but mostly unresponsive husband. I have more sympathy for the wife who is desperate for more personal attention and someone she can talk to. She ends up in a situation which can be seen as reprehensible, but through her narration we understand how someone can be led astray quite easily. For an old-fashioned book, it is remarkably modern (apart from the problems with maids, cooks, housekeepers etc!). The depiction of the mother/child relationship and the children's behaviour could apply to any era. A satisfying 'domestic' novel, probably more suited to female readers.
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on 12 January 2015
If you want a really good E.M.Delafield read it has to be The Diary of a Provincial Lady which is so funny and witty. This is the more serious story of Laura and her unfulfilled marriage. However, I enjoy her style of writing and the gentle language of the time is good to read.
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on 5 October 2013
E M Delafield wrote far too few books but what gems are the few she did. They are so finely poised but convey with concentration the deathliness of the home life of the central figure, her thoughts and difficulties. Excellent.
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on 2 March 2014
I was a bit disappointed - most of the book seemed to be taken up with the main character's domestic servant issues.
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on 29 September 2015
A gentle insightful read . I loved it and it was thought provoking.
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