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Diary of a Provincial Lady (The Provincial Lady #1)

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,872 ratings  ·  253 reviews
When "Diary of a Provincial Lady" was first publlished in 1933, critics on both sides of hte Atlantic greeted it with enthusiasm.....This charming, delightful and extremely funny book was named by booksellers in England the o.p. novel most deserving of republication.
Paperback, 388 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1930)
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Jan 18, 2013 Caroline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Kirsty
Written in 1930, this is a delightful romp through the joys and tribulations of a being an upper crust housewife in the country.

This book was very much based on the real life of its author. She had the right credentials for writing this story. As a teenager she was a debutante, then she married a colonel and had two children. She was also made president of her local Women’s Institute, and held this position for life. (This organisation is the ultimate custodian of country life in the UK.) On to
Delafield's marvelous Provincial Lady books are a series of journals written by a middle-class wife and mother, who is full of wit and literary aspirations but who is also tied down to her domestic duties; although she eventually achieves literary success, she still has to pull off a tricky balancing act between her professional and personal lives. A parade of notable characters, often based on Delafield's friends and family, inhabit the pages of the books: the diarist's husband Robert, stolid a ...more
I must admit that I have have been shy of meeting the Provincial Lady for such a long time.

You see she was so popular, I read so much praise for her wit and her charm, that I became the bookish equivilent of the shy child, who was so often tongue-tied and could never quite keep up with the leading lights.

I resisted a green Virago Modern Classics omnibus containg this book and its three sequels; I resisted a lovely anniversary edition clothed by Cath Kidson; but when a new Persephone edition appe
Dec 27, 2014 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Gabriele Wills
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
E M Delafield was great friends with Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, and became a director of Time and Tide magazine. When the editor "wanted some light 'middles', preferably in serial form, she promised to think of something". And so it was, in 1930, that her most popular and enduring work The Diary of a Provincial Lady was written. It has never been out of print.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady charts the day-to-day life of a Devonshire-dwelling la
Jeanette (jema)
Can't help but compare this to Any Human Heart that I am listening to parallell to this. Both (right now) in England in pre-war and in journal format.
This seem like mindless chatter, somewhat fun and interesting just due to the time it portraits. But really nothing that I will remember a week from now.
While Any human heart, also a fabricated journal is so much fuller, richer.
How I wish Delafield would have shared something a little more personal, a little more of her human heart.
This is the kind of book that makes me wish I lived in Cornwall in 1933 with a couple of servants, a garden, the occasional charity sale to organize and friends to invite me to places I generally can't afford. Granted there are bills to pay with money I don't have (or only have for 5 seconds as it is already spent) and snooty upper class ladies to contend with but I think that - with my new best friend, the Provincial Lady (PL) by my side - we could manage very well indeed, thank you.

I found th
British wit is good stuff. Comments about life are insightful, poignant and witty. Style of writing proves challenge as desire to learn more about character weighs heavily. (Query: do women such as this still exist, and if so, can I have a cup of tea with them on a frequent basis?)

See myself re-reading this and giving it higher ranking in future. Immediately post-read still feel a bit unsatisfied but perhaps that is sign of good author?
Having treated myself to the new Persephone edition of Diary of a Provincial Lady I decided to re-read it right away. One of the things that sold me on the new edition (already owning an old Virago copy of the complete Provincial lady) was the lovely endpaper – which will remain one of my favourites.

Our eponymous Provincial Lady – is an upper middle class wife and mother – who records in her journal the daily vicissitudes of life. Married to the often taciturn Robert, mother to Robin and Vicky,
It's not that so much happens, it's that you get to hear this woman's inner thoughts - and they are fun-nee. Witty and funny. I usually detest diary-type novels, but this one is in a league of its own. And I learned something, too - life was hard before tissues were invented. One of the Provincial Lady's recurrent worries is that they are going to or have already run out of handkerchiefs - can you imagine? During cold season? Witha coupla kids in the house? Yikes! Thank.Heavens.For.Kleenex. Anyw ...more
Austen to Zafón
Fictional diary of an upper-middle class lady living in a small English village between the wars, trying to keep up appearances on a too-small budget; manage her moody servants; and deal with high-spirited children, a flighty French governess, and a cold, bored husband. It doesn't sound like it should be funny, but it is, in that dry, deprecating, witty English way. As one reviewer said, "For its time, it's quite subversive, with the Provincial Lady chafing against the restrictions placed on her ...more
Query: why is this book not better known? It seems to me that it should be read at least as much as Bridget Jones.

Despite the fact that it is tremendously funny, I was left at the end with a sense that our heroine's life was perhaps somewhat sad and lonely. Her husband seems decidedly unsatisfactory, and she appears to spend the bulk of her time editing out her true thoughts and self in the service of being civil and serving the needs of others. She does have friend Rose, but this seems like ver
Supremely amusing account of a genteel English housewife between the wars. Her scattered, chatty, and often wry observations on her husband (perpetually hidden behind The Times), two children, nanny (“Mademoiselle”) and the line-up of village ladies provide most of the humor. Same sort of style as Bridget Jones’s Diary, only without the vulgarity and with a far more sympathetic heroine.
Feb 02, 2009 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but if you are married with kids, it may seem funnier and ring a little more true
Shelves: best-of-2008
I adored this darkly witty take on British life in the country. Very Mapp and Lucia, in the best way, with the added delight of the diarist's asides on motherhood. I'm sorry it took me so long to find it but I think now was the perfect time to read it.

Also, sorry that there's no picture of the pretty edition I have - a Virago reprint with a Cath Kidston cover.
Very funny faux-diary of a genteel housewife in 1930’s rural England . Self-deprecating, witty, and very concerned with superficialities, it’s a fun read. It’s not dated so much as it is a historical document.
This book was fabulous. I love anything set in interwar-era England and the humor is exactly to my taste.

"Find myself indulging in rather melodramatic fantasy of Bentley crashing into enormous motor-bus and being splintered to atoms. Permit chauffeur to escape unharmed, but fate of Lady B. left uncertain, owing to ineradicable impression of earliest childhood to the effect that It is Wicked to wish for the Death of Another. Do not consider, however, that severe injuries, with possible disfigure
Maia B.
I've been trying to think of an adjective which sums up this book for hours. Like, "Olive Kitteridge" is boring. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is brilliant. So far, though, all I'm coming up for "Diary of a Provincial Lady is"...well...bland.

Don't tell me I didn't try, though. I really did want to fit my head around "subtle," "understated," and "wry"; I waved aside "boring" at once, though that was among the first of the adjectives which came to mind. Short phrases didn't work either: "Dryly witty" di
Questo libro secondo me si presta benissimo a incomprensioni e aspettative deluse. Si tratta di un diario (fittizio, ma comunque formalmente un diario) di una lady di campagna inglese negli anni Trenta. La protagonista, sempre in bolletta, tenta disperatamente di soddisfare le pretese del silenzioso marito Robert, della perennemente insoddisfatta cuoca, della umorale istitutrice francese, dei due figli, nonchè di tutta una serie di persone che non vivono con lei ma pretendono da lei che sappia c ...more
I have been looking forward to reading this book forever since it's supposed to be one of the greatest comedies of manners - but I was pretty disappointed.

I honestly liked the main character (a 1930s Becky Bloomwood, just a little stricter with herself) and I liked her style (very sharp-tongued wit with lots of allusions to literature). But the Diary of a Provincial Lady is really more like a diary than like a novel: It consist of little anecdotes, there's no big overarc narrative arc, little c
It takes a truly talented mind to take the day to day life of a country house wife and convert it into a journal of light satire and human observation. It is a little wonder why The Diary..was a bestseller when it was published in 1933 and why the reprints are still so popular.
To be honest, when I got through the first fifty pages or so, I wasn’t entirely impressed – it did seem like a 30s chick lit. Breezy, funny and a little bitchy. Its only when I started paying attention to the little notes
Such a funny book in that dry British way. This was originally published in the 1930's - the story is written in the form of a diary of a middle-class housewife living in the English countryside. Strangely enough, this sort of reminded me of Bridget Jones' Diary (written 60 years earlier), although this one is about a married woman, not a single woman, and she doesn't really talk about her weight or her drinking...OK so maybe it's not very much like Bridget Jones (except they are both diaries of ...more
Sol  Gonzalez
Con este libro me di cuenta que tengo una debilidad por los libros epistolares.

- Werther
- El libro de cabecera
- Lady Susan

Sé que he leído varios, sin embargo dos de mis libros favoritos son epistolares y cuando comencé a leer éste fue amor. De repente me veía a mí misma escribiendo igualmente un diario donde redactar mis devaneos cotidianos... y es que... hacía poco había comenzado un proyecto de hacerlo (un diario, no los devaneos). Así fue mas sencillo enamorarme.

Lo siguiente fue leer y leer.
Delafield's unnamed narrator relates the happenings of her quiet life in this classic, published in 1931. A husband (Robert), and two children keep her life busy, although she feels that her means are straitened, despite having four servants (!). An occasional financial windfall is spent and respent practically before it arrives. The social life in the country revolves around the obnoxious, wealthy Lady B. and the importune Vicar's Wife, who wants our heroine to help with various charitable func ...more
This author is like Jane Austen's great grand niece, and Bridget Jones' grandmother.
It's a wry satirical look at the life of a middle class wife and mother in 1930's Britain. In some ways it's a really different world- she has servants to help with her busy life, her son's at boarding school and her daughter has a French governess. The conversations she relates from dinner parties, etc are so different- it seems so much more cultured and civilized. Yet the character types seem so familiar.

I'm a
This book is not my cup of tea. I do like British humor, but I only laughed once 3/4 of the way through. I just don't relate to the feelings expressed (or under-expressed) by the main character. Really, let's whine about our servants, mentally roll our eyes at everyone we speak to, overdraw our accounts because we have to have a dress in order to impress people we don't like, etc., etc. It reminded me of other books I just couldn't get through: Bridget Jones's Diary, Confessions of a Shopaholic. ...more
Harini Srinivasan
An enjoyable read, but forgettable. It's something over a month since I finished this book, but already I can't remember anything about it. Except that it reminded me of Richmal Crompton's William books, which I loved as a child and well into my adulthood. Still read one when I need a comfort read! 'Diary of a Provincial Lady' could well be written by Mrs Brown -- it has the same social setting, a similar, very likeable, family muddling along, and the same quiet humour. Now that I think about it ...more
Radio BBC 4 Book at Bedtime

E M Delafield was great friends with Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, and became a director of Time and Tide magazine. When the editor "wanted some light 'middles', preferably in serial form, she promised to think of something". And so it was, in 1930, that her most popular and enduring work The Diary of a Provincial Lady was written. It has never been out of print.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady charts the day-to-day life of a Devonshire-dwelling lady and h
This book had funny moments but in thinking about it overall, can only be recorded as an obligation. I am saddened because it was gifted to me by a Dear Friend who enjoyed it enough to purchase a copy for me, which I AM very grateful for. Despite the fact that I could not like it, I do not wish to dissuade D.F. from doing the same on any future occasion. One blot on her otherwise spotless record shall go entirely unnoticed by me, excepting in this review, where I am compelled to be honest (as th ...more
Drivvle. Really boring. I'm sure at the time, 1930s, it was an oh so sharp satire, but the humor hasn't aged well and its just a lot of talk about mishaps with the servants,misplacing tulip bulbs and oh gosh dinner with Lady B. My mum got me this for my birthday and it continues the unbroken run of all the books she's got me being terrible. Shes a ferociously well read woman, so it baffles me at what she picks for me.
In her introduction Rachel Johnson says that this book is "a proper English treat, like a cream tea after a long, muddy country walk" and I was inclined to agree with her until we got to the part about the kittens... and then it all gets rather annoying... pawning her ring only to then go to buy a new hat... persuading the bank manager to give her an overdraft only to go and spend the money on new clothes... spending a week in London looking for a new maid and having trouble getting one because ...more
Evelyn Porter
Dull. Not what I expected after reading all the other reviews. Found the woman to be extrememly superficial. Pawning jewelry to spend money for unnecessary purchases, just to keep up appearances, is NOT what I would consider funny. The husband is bored, the children are raised by others, the servants feel over worked and the neighbors gossip. All of which I find very sad and uninteresting.
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Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture (9 June 1890 – 2 December 1943), commonly known as E. M. Delafield, was a prolific English author who is best-known for her largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which took the form of a journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s, and its sequels in which the Provincial La ...more
More about E.M. Delafield...

Other Books in the Series

The Provincial Lady (4 books)
  • The Provincial Lady in London
  • The Provincial Lady in America
  • The Provincial Lady in Wartime
The Provincial Lady in London The Provincial Lady in America The Diary of a Provincial Lady The Provincial Lady in Wartime Consequences

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“She is never alone when she has Her Books. Books, to her, are Friends. Give her Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Meredith or Hardy, and she is Lost - lost in a world of her own. She sleeps so little that most of her nights are spent reading.” 22 likes
“Mucho antes de que estuviéramos a medio camino, y sabedora de que nunca llegaría a la roca, ya confiaba en que la segunda esposa de Robert fuera buena con los niños. La vizcondesa, que nadaba tranquilamente, me preguntó si estaba bien. "Oh, sí", contesté, y acto seguido me hundí.
(Duda: ¿Castigo divino?)”
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