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One to Keep by the Bedside
on 3 July 2017
First published in 1930, E.M.Delafield's amusing 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady', although presented as a fictional account, is based on the author's own experiences and follows the daily life of an upper-middle-class lady living in a Devonshire village, as she recounts to her readers the personal and domestic dramas she encounters as she tries to be the kind of wife, mother and, importantly, the woman she would like to be. In dated diary entries we read of the frustrations of our Provincial Lady as she attempts to cope with planting and raising her indoor bulbs (often a problem if one buys one's bulbs from Woolworth's instead of Haarlam's in Holland); then there is the servant problem (our heroine has two indoor servants, a gardener, and a French nanny for her young daughter); there is also the ongoing problem of balancing her finances (and of how to afford a new hat, stockings and evening dress when one's bank account is already overdrawn); and then there is the domineering Lady Boxe, whose condescending and insufferable behaviour make our heroine feel rather inadequate (and also like committing 'Justifiable Homicide'). And these are just a few of the problems our Provincial Lady has to deal with...
Although very much 'of its time' and many people reading this today wouldn't mind swapping their problems with those of the Provincial Lady, some of her dilemmas and the feelings they provoke in our heroine, will still resonate with today's readers, and if you take this in the spirit with which is was written then this light-hearted, witty and satirical little novel makes an enjoyable and entertaining read. One to keep by the bedside to dip in and out of as the feeling takes you.