What a fun book! Published in 1931, the book is the so-called diary of a British countryside housewife. That's all it is; there's no over-arching plot...moreWhat a fun book! Published in 1931, the book is the so-called diary of a British countryside housewife. That's all it is; there's no over-arching plot, unlike many other fictional diaries.
The narrator/author has a subtle snarkiness that feels modern, and the prose is straightforward, with an excellent grasp of dialogue & human nature, and very little description. The book's funny in a "smirked-my-way-through-it-in-recognition" sense.
I also enjoyed the period details. For example, the narrator's money problems take up substantial portions of the narrative, yet the family has a French governess(?), a cook, and a house parlour maid--apparently these are necessities. Some quotes:
On her children's artistic sensibilities:
"Robin says essential to get gramophone record called "Is Izzy Azzy Wozz?" (N.B. Am often struck by disquieting thought that the dear children are entirely devoid of any artistic feeling whatever, in art, literature, or music. This conviction intensified after hearing "Is Izzy Azzy Wozz?" rendered fourteen times running on the gramophone, after I have succeeded in obtaining record).
When soliciting fundraising suggestions at a meeting:
"At last extract a suggestion of a concert from Mrs. L (whose son plays the violin) and a whist-drive from Miss P. (who won Ladies' First Prize at the last one). Florie P. suggests a dance and is at once reminded that it will be Lent. She says Lent isn't what it was."
"Can quite believe that dear Vicky [narrator's young daughter] would murder any number of sailors, if necessary."
It reminds me of the Henrietta's War series by Joyce Dennys, and definitely fits the Bloomsbury Group series/Persephone Books mold. It also could be seen as a predecessor to Bridget Jones's Diary, though less madcap. Recommended.(less)
Note: I actually read Chronicle Book's reprint version (retitled Bubbly on Your Budget), but thought this cover had more personality. I believe the co...moreNote: I actually read Chronicle Book's reprint version (retitled Bubbly on Your Budget), but thought this cover had more personality. I believe the contents of both editions are the same.
I wanted to read this for 3 reasons:
1) I enjoyed author Marjorie Hillis' Live Alone and Like It. She has a no-nonsense style that's refreshing. As a Vogue editor, too, her version of thriftiness promised to be more glamorous than most.
2) Vintage advice books are fascinating. Their assumptions and concerns can reveal so much about everyday life for that era. This one (a budget book written in 1937, not even a decade after the Crash) seems esp. pertinent and ripe for comparisons.
3) I like being thrifty, and am always looking for saving tips.
After reading it, I recommend this book for the first two reasons. The practical advice is limited and dated, but the period details are fascinating and the author remains as no-nonsense as ever. If I can, I'll revise this review later with some excerpts.(less)