I first came across E M Delafield in a combilation of sketches from the 1930s - and I then turned to her Provincial Lady series.
Words cannot describe the brilliance of these novels - this one (known to many as The Provincial Lady Goes Further) is unquestionably my favourite.
The first novel was clever, and in many ways her best, but the second has lost the tension of the first book. The last two, whilst good, rather lapse into autobiography and staidness in places.
This book is one of my favourite, and I'm very glad it has been brought back into print.
on 17 March 2010
The provincial lady series by E M Delafield are some of the finest comic writings of the twentieth century. I was first introduced to these by my mother when I was sixteen and devoured the books as quickly as I could. Recently I have re-read them and now being of the same age as the horoine, and in the same sort of situation (without the luxury of household staff) find them funnier and more appealing than ever.
The heroine (whose name we never learn) relates the habitual pitfalls and triumphs of her life in a diary form. Detailing her life, neighbours and friends she comes across as self depracating and extremely personable - exactly the sort of person one would like as a next door neighbour. Her situations are those known to all and therefore wonderfully easy to read dealing as they do with the mundane everyday trivia (from walking to the post office to deliver a letter, to getting a new hair do). Comedy can date very quickly, but, like Faulty Towers, these books have a timeless quality.
Delafield can capture the essense of everyday activities and relate them in hilarious detial - so easily identifiable to today. It is extremely important that you buy this series of books, then retreat with them to your desert island.