E.M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady is just that—a lady’s (fictionalized) account of the minutiae of provincial life between the first and second world wars.
Originally published in 1933, there’s certainly much with which I cannot relate. The post, for one: I’m lucky to get a flimsy piece of advertising thrown in a box once a day, let alone invitations to dinner, hand addressed on fine paper, delivered twice daily. And not once, in forty years, have I had to deal with unruly servants.
But that’s neither here nor there. What struck me most were the similarities.
As a matter of fact, the book could very well be classified as chick lit; each entry could just as easily be a blog post. Just one lady, describing her day to another; while we may live in different times and places, we can laugh at that which we recognize: lagging bank accounts, nosy neighbors, snobbish sorts—the sad realization that all the effort put into your hair and makeup and dress, did not make it back home with you at the end of the party.
Echkart Tolle once said, ‘To love is to recognize yourself in another.” Perhaps that’s what makes Diary of a Provincial Lady so easy to adore.
Needless to say, it’s a charming book, perfect to throw in your bag for a lazy afternoon in the hammock or a lounge on the beach—equally delightful to read whilst snuggled up to a roaring fire.
When all is said and done, you’ll no doubt find it a quick read (you may finish it in one sitting) and witty (her parenthetical asides, notes to self, and rhetorical questions slay me), but a waste of time? Not in the least. After all, it’s a look back in time, to see what’s changed; but more importantly, it’s a reminder that much remains the same. And we’re not at all alone.
I ordered my book through Persephone Books—a limited time offer, for Valentine’s Day. If I recall, they said it would be officially released the end of April. When, exactly, I cannot say . . . but do keep your eyes peeled!