The Diary She Wrote….

These have been very stressful weeks and this last week was no different. By the time Friday was done, all I wanted was a good book to steer my mind from professional and personal challenges, smart enough to be meaningful and funny enough to distract me from past events! Now it so happened, in this frame of mind, I embarked on toggling through by favorite bookish blogs and I saw that O had just done a Nostalgia post – books  from which she sought comfort to take her mind off from the recent snow infested disasters around her home! Among the long list, one book, she referred to was Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and the novel settings seemed like the most perfect read. I also remembered that Jane had couple of years back an enthusiastic review of the book and that kind of sealed the deal. I mean O and Jane are two people with irreproachable bookish taste and if they say its good, chances are it will be good! Oh! the joys of bookish blogs, none but the book obsessed understand – you find readers-in-arms who are completely supportive, empathetic and as added bonus, have the right book recommendation to get you away from the mundane reality!


Thus began my tryst with the Provincial Lady, living in a country near Plymouth, in between the two wars, probably around 1930s. She is married to a laconic but practical land agent, Robert and has two adorable but handful children, Robin who is away at school for most of the year and six year old Vicky! The household further consists of the Mademoiselle, the sometimes high strung, but always sympathetic governess to Vicky, the Cook who rules the household and itinerant round of parlor maids/menservants. The Lady’s life is of course anything but “leisured” as wonders herself! When involved with managing  the servants, house, husband and children, her time is taken up with the Women’s Institute, writing for the Time and Tied magazine and the social life within the country. Then, there are interludes of visits to London, ostensibly to procure a parlor maid, but primarily spent in shopping, dinner and theater, with her best friend Rose as well trips to South of France and the English coast. Then there are her neighbors like Lady B, the Vicar’s wife and many others whose actions and conversations take up much time and thought in the provincial lady’s already busy life, which trundles along among  home, travel, bank overdrafts,illness and social activities!

I often agree, with my fellow readers, that all books have a time and a place and this book came at the most propitiate moment in my life and rescued me from gloom and doom! Through the eyes of the Provincial Lady, I found much to be satirical about mankind and further more, I found hilarious laugh out loud moments! Ms. Delafield took the everyday life and turns it on its head, to make it look like one gigantic joyride, despite all the challenges. Her struggles in 1930s are as real as now and her relief and enjoyments remains as much fun, nearly 100 years down the line. I loved the brisk pace and crisp writing of even some of the most complicated situations that life presented! The brilliance of Ms. Delafield comes across especially when narrating a wholly embarrassing situation in a self deprecating yet extremely humorous manner! I loved her tongue and cheek take on Orlando and Vita Sackville West as well as her dislike for “cultured recreations” like the Italian exhibition! But for all its witty sparkle, what I loved most about the book was the subtle vein of commentary on women’s equality and classless society, which she superbly weaves into the narrative!

To say I have become a devotee is an understatement; I am a convert, who will now go out to the world to convert more into the Delafieldian clan! Vi Va Ms. Delafield!


7 thoughts on “The Diary She Wrote….

  1. the Provincial Lady comments on Orlando!! that alone is reason to read it! but it sounds like a comfortable, pleasant place that would be fun to visit. i’ll scrounge about and see if i can find a copy… I’m sorry it’s tough at work; i remember that in my own life, but i try to forget it. I also remember, in a species of epiphany at one time, realizing that people acted like that because they’re afraid of something, usually deeply hidden and not very rational… you shall overcome!!

    1. You are absoutely right….thus book is a comfort read! I hope you find a copy! Yeah…work’s been bad lately; the funny part is that I really do like the actual work…I really do like being a Project Leader; it is just the periphery that is becoming a bit too much these days! It is what it is and bills have to be paid, so I will sit quietly and bide my time! You have gone to the very core of the problem when you say that they are afraid of something – I can see the insecurities coming through and making these folks act the way they do. Thank You for the encouragement! I shall overcome! 😀

  2. Sounds like a great read! What particularly strikes me when I compare modern writing so something older or historic, is how people used to be able to take struggles or strife or tragedies and power through them with a cheerfulness (or at least a wisdom) that is truly uplifting and encouraging. Nowadays we tend to like to wallow in our misery, which certainly does not make for a happy or useful life. We certainly have something to learn from the past.

    I hope things are going better for you! I keep telling myself the sun will shine again. Now I just have to believe it. 😉

    1. I think you have hit the nail here. In modern era, there seems to be somekind of glory in wallowing in tragedy. Things happen, but we have to keep moving on and find joy where we can. Things are more or less same…hope they are better for you! The sun shall and will shine! Hang on!

  3. I have not read t his one but your enthusiasm for it makes is super enticing. I am all booked up at the moment, but will definitely try to fit this one in sometime soon!

    1. Please do and let me know how it went! I loved the serene country setting and the tongue in cheek humor to make make up for what is usually boring!

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