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Behind this rather prim title lies the hilarious fictional diary of a disaster-prone lady of the 1930s, and her attempts to keep her somewhat ramshackle household from falling into chaos: there’s her husband Robert, who, when he’s not snoozing behind The Times, does everything with grumbling recluctance; her gleefully troublesome children; and a succession of tricky sevants who invariably seem to gain the upper hand. And if her domestic trials are not enough, she must keep up appearances. Particularly with the maddeningly patronising Lady Boxe, whom our Provincial Lady eternally (and unsuccessfully) tries to compete with.


Glorious, simply glorious
She converts the small and familiar dullness of life into laughter
I reread, for the nth time, E. M. Delafield's dry, caustic Diary of a Provincial Lady, and howled with laughter
India Knight
Before there was Bridget Jones, there was Delafield's provincial lady, cataloguing her struggles with supercilious neighbours, a distracted husband and unforthcoming hyacinth bulbs. The home counties domesticity may be a creation of the 1930s, but some things are eternal, from the mixture of joy and tedium that is parenting, to the jolt of horror when you catch your reflection unawares in the mirror of a changing room
I finished the book in one sitting, leaving the children unbathed, dogs unwalked, a husband unfed, and giving alternate cries of joy and recognition throughout
Jully Cooper