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The Diary of a Provincial Lady (The Provincial Lady #1-4)

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4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  263 Ratings  ·  48 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 would she?), only occasionally allows herself to become vexed by the ongoing servant problem, and would be truly appal ...more
Paperback, 562 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Virago
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 593)
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Susan
Jun 30, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Samantha
Jan 14, 2013 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-it-before
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
...more
Siria
Nov 09, 2008 Siria rated it really liked it
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
Val
Jun 03, 2016 Val rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: byt-main
The day to day life of this provincial lady is not very exciting, she manages the household budget (badly), tries not to upset the staff or dote on her children too much, gets annoyed with the local 'bigwig', gets involved in local fundraising efforts, meets friends and enters writing competitions. It is all told with a wry humour, which makes the book enjoyable, but it was probably better as a series of anecdotes in ladies magazine "Time and Tide" than as a novel.
Judy
May 14, 2015 Judy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review is just of the first Provincial Lady book, though the Virago edition does contain the sequels too. I started with high hopes, as I usually like diary-style books, but quickly found the lady's life rather boring, as her major problems are things like Cook preparing a cold dinner instead of a hot one.

There are many witty lines and some amusing incidents, but the book as a whole is rather repetitive and a lot of the humour just doesn't work for me. For instance, comments by the governe
...more
K.
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
...more
Emma
May 10, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing
Screamingly, delightfully, deliciously funny. Lots of literary allusions as well as lots of "Yep, I've been there too" moments. She shows the hilarity and absurdity of ordinary, prosaic, frustrating situations. The original, London, and America are probably the best, although if you're insatiable for more Provinicial Lady (like me) it's great to have the Wartime and Russia diaries to dip into too.
Susann
Apr 04, 2009 Susann rated it liked it
Shelves: persephone
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
...more
Pamela
Feb 11, 2015 Pamela rated it it was amazing
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.
Toast
Apr 10, 2015 Toast rated it liked it
Light relief of a purely English kind. It has a charm all of its own that meant I couldn't put it down. The whims and wherefors of British life are so comical and beautifully observed. We haven't changed all that much now you know.
Toast
Pat
Jun 01, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield published in London in 1930
My first reaction to this book was that it is a direct precursor to Bridget Jones Diary. The dialogue, diary entries, move along at a rapid pace combining wit with a sharp eye on the social mores of the time. Where it differs is in the writer’s self-confidence, the sense you get that she knows that she is has independent identity even as she attempts to meet the expectations of the social world determined by her husband
...more
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
Roberta
Letto il primo volume
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Letto il secondo volume
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Letto il terzo volume
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Recensione del quarto volume, The Provincial Lady in Wartime.

Come al solito, i diari della lady di provincia sono caratterizzati da understatement, ironia e quel modo tutto inglese di affrontare l'apocalisse con massimo aplomb. La protagonista in questo volume scrive durante i primi tre mesi della seconda guerra m
...more
Mrsgaskell
Sep 09, 2011 Mrsgaskell rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, own
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
...more
The Library Lady
Nov 03, 2011 The Library Lady rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
...more
Christine
Jul 11, 2012 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
A fictional diary of an upper-middle class woman living in a Devonshire village circa 1930 as she struggles to balance the household books, and to keep her home running as smoothly as possible while trying to solve various crises and keep everyone happy, from her husband and children to her friends, neighbours, servants and tradesmen. She deals with colds (herself and the children), measles (herself and the children), and a cat who is continually producing litters. Cash is always tight, and her ...more
SarahC
Dec 13, 2011 SarahC rated it really liked it
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
...more
Verity W
Aug 12, 2011 Verity W rated it it was amazing
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
Melissa Whittinghill
Refreshingly modern and witty you'd never guess it was originally published in 1930. Diary of a society woman who deals with her children, husbands, friends and frenemies. Similar vibes to Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Helen Fielding.
Julie
Nov 27, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it
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 ot ...more
Michelle
Oct 07, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
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
Mary
Jan 30, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Zoella
Jul 23, 2011 Zoella rated it it was amazing
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!
DonaAna
Dec 15, 2009 DonaAna rated it it was ok
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.
Judy Fowler
Jun 20, 2014 Judy Fowler rated it liked it
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.
April
Jan 15, 2016 April rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2014
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.
Christy
Aug 08, 2009 Christy rated it really liked it
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.
Michele
Feb 13, 2008 Michele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
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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 (5 books)
  • Diary of a Provincial Lady
  • The Provincial Lady in London
  • The Provincial Lady in America
  • The Provincial Lady in Wartime

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