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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 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.

4 Stars
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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 13 May 2016
What an absolutely charming book. I loved the Provincial Lady. She is so funny and makes the most brilliant observations of all those around her. I laughed out loud on nearly every page. I loved the husband who typically declines to comment and the children. And although it was written such a long time ago the issues she deals with seem so relevant to today such as the frustrations of children and husbands. And the posh friends or rather acquaintances all so beautifully observed with humour and self deprecating wit. I can't recommend this book highly enough and have given it away as a present a few times.
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on 29 May 2012
It is many years since I last read this book, and recall thoroughly enjoying it, so decided to read it again. To my surprise, I enjoyed it even more second time around - on contemplation I think this was because with the passage of time and experience of life you are able to appreciate this wonderful 'diary' even more, and it does hark back to a former way of life which is alien to the younger generation - a real touch of nostalgia! The gentle humour and observations are wonderful, and I am delighted to re-aquaint myself with this book. Enjoy!
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on 28 March 2015
I found this book, despite the fact that all the attitudes are completely dated, hilariously funny. I don't know why, as I have absolutely nothing in common with the lady in question. If you want a Sunday afternoon of light easy reading, you couldn't do better - but - I doubt if it would appeal to men!
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on 6 April 2018
Love this little book, beautiful design, perfect size for taking travelling etc. There's a whole list of titles to choose from so far i've bought four!
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on 7 November 2012
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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on 18 January 2018
Writing this as a diary has made the stories very immediate.
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on 7 August 2016
Do not get this copy of the book. Terrible spelling mistakes throughout which ruined reading it for me. I have read the book before and loved it so the book itself is highly recommended.
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