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on 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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on 19 February 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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on 30 March 1999
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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Although published in book form in 1934, the “Diary of a Provincial Lady,” started life in 1930 as a serial in “Time and Tide.” Largely autobiographical, Delafield substituted the names “Robin” and “Vicky” for her own children, called Lionel and Rosamund, but, aside from name changes, this is very much a light hearted diary of country life and based upon the author’s own experiences.

The Provincial Lady deals with domestic disasters, the W.I., a monosyllabic husband, mutinous staff and the bossy and opinionated Lady Boxe. There are struggles with indoor bulbs and financial worries, tales of friends visits and reciprocal trips to see them – including shopping in London and a rash holiday to the South of France. Obviously, many of the issues raised in this book, such as domestic servants and boarding schools, are not relevant to the majority of people now. However, much of this book still feels relevant today – her musings of parenting especially ring true, as do her statements on social snobbery, her opinions about neighbours, worrying about how she looks and feeling left out of discussions about shows she has not seen or books she has not read (even if you could now substitute this for television shows or films).

There are many sequels to this book and I am sure that I will read them, as I enjoyed this very much. I found the Provincial Lady delightful and this a very light and humorous read. If you also like this, I would recommend, “Henrietta’s War,” by Joyce Dennys, which has a similar feel.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 November 2013
Wonderful little 1930 work, cataloguing the minutiae of the narrator's life in a highly humorous and pithy manner.
From Our Vicar's wife and her lengthy visits
("she says...she won't keep me a minute. Tells me long story about the Vicar having a stye on one eye. I retaliate with Cook's sore throat. This leads to draughts, the heating apparatus in church, and news of Lady Boxe in South of France...She goes but turns back at the door to tell me about wool next the skin, nasal douching and hot milk last thing at night.")

to the narrator's taciturn husband, her children, problems with unruly servants, and constant irritations with patronising neighbour Lady B: even our Lady's final attempt at one-upmanship by announcing a forthcoming trip to France is spoilt by Lady B leaning out of her Bentley to offer to find out about quite inexpensive pensions.

Although this is set in a world vastly different from our own, every reader will recognise the people who make up this society.
The Virago edition, which I have, also contains 3 sequels, following our heroine to London, to America and lastly through the war.(which I've not yet read - I think one book at a time is probably sufficient.)
Light, but highly enjoyable and observant writing.
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on 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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on 6 January 2014
this is a great read, very funny, and I think anyone would enjoy reading this, I liked seeing the funny drawings too, had me in stitches
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on 1 February 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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on 29 August 2014
Excellent book but don't buy this version/edition as it is full of typos. It's clearly never been proof-read.
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on 1 December 2009
Now really the title of this book does kind of tell you what's coming. This is a fictional `Diary of a Provincial Lady' though having a wander through the internet etc it turns out that actually this was quite an autobiographical volume of E.M. Delafield's work. We follow our narrator through a year of village life as she copes with village life, marriage, children, cooks, neighbours and the like for just under a year. That is pretty much the premise of the book, throw in some very dry, wry, deadpan humour and a bunch of rather wonderfully bizarre local characters and there you have a novel that you will sit grinning through.
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