Title: Diary of a Provincial Lady
Author: E.M. Delafield (1890–1943)
Publication: Academy Chicago Publishers, trade paperback, 2002 (1930)
Plot: The book is a somewhat autobiographical diary of the life of an upper-middle-class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village in the 1930s, with a grumpy husband, two young children (one of whom attends boarding school), a large awkward house, a number of servants, and many acquaintances (although only one real friend).
|My library edition|
Still, some of the aspects of her life are not altogether humorous. Why must she agonize about every penny, including pawning her great-aunt’s ring frequently, when her husband seems oblivious to their precarious financial situation? Couldn’t she economize by reducing her household staff? I know the answer is no, but for example, couldn’t she teach her child herself or send her to the local primary instead of having a live-in French governess for an (I think) six-year-old? Is she self-deprecating about her finances because she is amused by the situation or because it is so dire she can only cope by joking about it? Usually, I greatly enjoy the social satire of a book like this, set in a gossipy English country town, but the heroine’s wryness seemed more exhausting to maintain than it would have been to learn how to cook! Not to mention, how disappointing it would be to have multiple servants, yet for them to be as disobliging as those in this household! I want Carson and Anna or no one!
Off the Blog: I have been laboring all day on a take-home cataloging midterm – torture!
Source: Library copy. There have obviously been a lot of attractively packaged editions over the years. My library copy included the original illustrations by Arthur Watts, an artist whose work also appeared in Punch. He was known for his gently satirical observations of class distinctions and his black and white drawings add greatly to the book.
|She is often writing letters|