Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” as Want to Read:
The Diary of a Provincial Lady
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Diary of a Provincial Lady (Provincial Lady Series)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  164 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The Provincial Lady has a nice house, a nice husband (usually asleep behind The Times) and nice children. In fact, maintaining Niceness is the Provincial Lady's goal in life her raison d'être. She never raises her voice, rarely ventures outside Devon (why should she?), only occasionally allows herself to become vexed by the ongoing servant problem, and would be truly appal ...more
Paperback, 562 pages
Published November 1st 1984 by Little, Brown Book Group (first published 1947)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Diary of a Provincial Lady, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Diary of a Provincial Lady

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingDracula by Bram StokerZ213 by Dimitris LyacosThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
Fictional Diaries and Journals
33rd out of 106 books — 68 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenLittle Women by Louisa May AlcottJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëSense and Sensibility by Jane AustenEmma by Jane Austen
Novels of Domestic Life
172nd out of 329 books — 73 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 397)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
One of my favourite books! I have read this so many times I am on my third copy. It is one I can open on any page and just start reading. funny, poignant, thought provoking and honest. Big fan of E M Delafield and would recommend her.

The Provincial Lady (you never learn her name) lives in Devon with her husband and two children and her diary tells of her everyday life with characters from the village, her constant battle with the state of her finances, her surprise at the publication of her book
I adore this book. The Provincial Lady is basically Bridget Jones, and I will eat my proverbial hat if Helen Fielding isn't intimately familiar with her - on first name terms, even.

The only part of it I dislike is the back cover, which reads:

"The Provincial Lady has a nice house, a nice husband (usually asleep behind The Times), and nice children. In fact, maintaining Niceness is the Provincial Lady’s goal in life—her raison d'être. She never raises her voice, rarely ventures outside Devon (why
Diary of a Provincial Lady is a wryly, gently satirical look at the lives led by upper-middle class British women in the period between the two world wars. For its time, it's quite subversive, with the Provincial Lady chafing against the restrictions placed on her by her gender and position. Delafield displays a marvellous ear for dialogue and a deft sense of the social requirements of 1930s Britain—after a particularly trying visit from the odious Lady Boxe, "Relieve my feelings by waving small ...more
1.99 Kindle buy (great deal when these are hard to find.) Just finished first volume. Absolutely addicted. Can't put a finger on why I'm loving this so much because it seems to be a whole lot of nothing. Nevertheless, I'm just enchanted with it. I think I would have liked to have known this author in person. I'm REALLY looking forward to knowing her better...

"(Query here becomes unavoidable: Does not a misplaced optimism exist, common to all mankind, leading on to false conviction that social
A brilliant book. This diary was originally written as a series of articles in Time and Tide Magazine. The diary covers the period from 1930 until 1939 and the 'phoney war'. E m Delafield's writing is very witty and there were times when I laughed out loud. More than that though, I felt she was a friend and she was chatting to me about her life and her friends I was sad when I came to the last page.
Dismayed to discover the contagious effect of Delafield's pronoun-lacking style and am beginning to wonder when "I" shall return to my sentences. ;)
Delafield offers a wry look at 1930s middle-class English life. A fun read and I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read it in weekly installments, as it was originally published. Excellent reading for social historians.

Although this is not a Persephone book, I am putting it on my persephone shelf, because Delafi
Girl with her Head in a Book
I first encountered The Diary of a Provincial Lady in the late 1990s when it was serialised on Radio 4. Coming to it as a reader, I still heard it internally in the voice of the lady narrator. I think in some ways that this was its ideal format, with Imelda Staunton maintaining that breezily optimistic tone that seems constantly about to crack but never quite does. Generally acknowledged as a thinly (very thinly) disguised autobiography, The Diary of a Provincial Lady has the same pin-sharp humo ...more
This volume contains not only The Diary of a Provincial Lady but three sequels as well: The Provincial Lady Goes Further, The Provincial Lady in America, and The Provincial Lady in Wartime. I have finished and enjoyed the first three books. I've decided that I will add each book to my shelf as a separate entity although this complete edition is the one I actually own.

We never get to know the provincial lady's name but her diary reveals much about her life and family in the 1930s. Daily life rev
The Library Lady
This has now been added to the canon of books I love set between the two World Wars, the books of Nancy Mitford, Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth Howard and others.

Four books are included here and each has its delights. The first: "Diary of a Provincial Lady" is that--the life of a middle class wife and mother in Devon, complete with "Our Vicar", the snobby local grande dame in the manor house, the problems of cooks and housemaids and a perfect stiff upper lip husband who takes refuge behind the newspa
A wonderful book!
Very witty and gives an insight into the pre war and war times.
It was so of the time of the 1930's where people were still in service.
There are great episodes like the constant trip to the pawnbrokers to spending more than their means which seemed to be a common occurance being overdrawn at the bank
Robert the husbands view was that writing a diary was a waste of time.
Wonderful characters from the vicars wife, Lady B to Helen Wheels the cat who was always having kittens and the p
I wanted to write a quick review and also clarify that this edition of Provincial Lady includes four of the Lady writings including Provincial Lady in Wartime -- one that I had not read. I read just this part of this edition in this case.

"in Wartime" is an important part of the Delafield collection, telling of the first days of life during WWII for the Lady, her family, and her acquaintances. She is one of the middle class who seek a way to help with war work. Provincial Lady finds herself in L
Verity W
I really enjoyed the first three books in this omnibus, but found the final one - the Provincial lady in wartime - a bit of a slog. This may perhaps be because I had the next book sitting on the table waiting for me. But I enjoyed a good 370+ pages of the 500, especially the provincial lady goes further. It's like Bridget Jones in the 1930s, if Bridget had been married with children and servants. Really very amusing and I wish I hadn't let it sit on my to read pile for so long (about 6 months to ...more
Only read the first book of this 4-part series. Wryly funny style, sharp character insight, but it is so much like a real diary (i.e. no plot) there is nothing but the writing and the Lady herself to drive the book. Which is enough to recommend at least the first book and require a break before tackling the three sequels.
She's the Erma Bombeck of Britain between the wars. I love her narrative voice but the overall lack of plot does get a little old, especially when you are reading this collection of 4 books at once. Nevertheless, a delightful cozy read of a time we shall never see again.
The Diary of a Provincial Lady is one of those books that people are always recommending I read, but I hadn't really given it much thought until I came across a 1980s Virago bind up of the four Provincial Lady books in a second hand bookshop while on holiday a couple of weeks ago. I bought it for £1.99, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book. It's lovely, subtle, observational, very British humour - very much in the vein of an early twentieth century Jane Austen. I suspect that the o ...more
Judy Fowler
Have just finished the first of four books, very surprising prose (so contemporary but the asides irritating).

After reading all 4 'Provincial Lady'books I read the intro which suggested that one should read each segment as originally written for publication in a periodical. Pity I didn't do that! That said this was well worth reading for many reasons.
I could not possibly be any more enthusiastic about this delightful little set of four fictionalized-diary-style books. They are tremendous fun. My family kept wanting me to explain why I was howling with laughter, and then they kept not getting it when I tried to explain. I think you need to be a mother to completely appreciate these. More fun than a barrel of monkeys typing Shakespeare (incidentally, did you know that if monkeys are given typewriters in the hopes of eventually randomly typing ...more
Fascinating insight into the first half of the C20th.
Easy book to pick up or put down when busy. Full of gentle humour. Very enjoyable.
I really loved all the collection. It was great to see familiar stereotypes of British life captured in such an observant and affectionate way. The Provincial lady is an amusing, self-deprecating and strong character. I shall miss her witty remarks and her use of brackets and queries. I read the whole collection in a matter of weeks - I could have sat down with the provincial lady for hours!
The first part (this is a multivolume edition) was OK, once I slowly warmed up to it. It's all downhill from there. The trip to America is pretty uninteresting, and the wartime volume is so boring I don't think I'll ever be able to finish it. Somehow you can sense that these books were written to pay the cook, the butcher, the parlormaid... something really forced about the style.
Pru Sly
One of my favourite books. I'm currently on my third copy (the other two having been read so much they fell to pieces!) and still read it when I want to think about life the way it apparently used to be in Britain between the wars. Bear in mind though that it was meant to be serialised (in Time and Tide magazine), so won't bear reading in long sessions or might seem repetative.
Before Bridget Jones, there was the Provincial Lady. Once a roaring success on both sides of the Atlantic, this funny, ironic, and understated novel is little known now. If you are a fan of English countryside, the humor of floundering conversations, and the tyranny of domestic life, Read On.
I read this so long ago I can't even remember when that was. It remains one of my all-time favorites & regular comfort read. The author's wry British humor & understated style never fails to bring true laugh out loud moments throughout the whole book. The characters & 1930s setting are a gem.
Aug 08, 2010 Relyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women who love Jane Austen
Recommended to Relyn by: Beth Bonini
What can I say about this book? It's odd and quirky and completely wonderful. My friend Beth recommended it on her blog here:

Go read her post because she did it better that I ever could.
The original Bridget Jones, it seems! I'm sure all British people already knew about it, but I just found this book over Christmas in England and loving it!

Very funny and enjoyable...
Could not get through the other books though
I love this book so much that in my high school drama class, I adapted one of the diary entries as a monologue. It was like, grade 11 or 12, and no one else found 1930s British humour very funny... but wow, I can re-read this forever.
Letto il primo volume
Letto il secondo volume
Letto il terzo volume
The Arjunator
Delafield writes about the trials and tribulations of life in the country between the wars. Witty and charming (are all books by English female authors about pastoral life witty and charming?).
I loved this book. It really shows how people don't change.. every villages has characters like she describes. I enjoyed her style of writing, almost like an early twitterer - few pronouns!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
  • At Mrs Lippincote's
  • Devoted Ladies
  • Elizabeth and Her German Garden
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Invitation to the Waltz
  • Miss Mole (A Virago modern classic)
  • Hester
  • The Land of Spices
  • Jane and Prudence
  • One Fine Day
  • The Shutter of Snow
  • The Rector's Daughter
  • Gone to Earth
  • Lolly Willowes
  • Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45
  • The Daisy Chain, Or, Aspirations: A Family Chronicle
  • The Getting of Wisdom
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...
Diary of a Provincial Lady The Provincial Lady in London The Provincial Lady in America The Provincial Lady in Wartime Consequences

Share This Book