In retrospect: Diary of a Provincial Lady

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!

Bookish sorts

Charlotte Bronte

“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.” – Charlotte Brontë

April 21 marks the birth date of Charlotte Brontë, born in Thornton, West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1816.

While she penned several novels in her short lifetime, she is, of course, known most of all for Jane Eyre.

So, in honor of the birthday girl, here’s a peek at her story–and that of her sisters, Emily and Anne:

In the Field

Friday Field Notes 041814


Ah, Easter weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’m frantically trying to get things done so I can focus on the good stuff–like catching up on my reading. After all, Diary of a Provincial Lady (E.M. Delafield), The Father Brown mystery series (G.K. Chesterton), and The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis) have waited quite long enough. As for you, I hope your holiday is bright and happy; may you even find time to sneak in a good book or two.

Until then, a few bookish bits . . .

First things first: the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners.

10 Terms you need to know to understand poetry.

E.L. Doctorow wins Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

The Guardian Books shares readers’ tales, specifically female characters admired by men.

Of course, British Reading Agency survey finds 63% of men rarely read.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf is all about the monsters.

Ginny Weasley (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) writes Quidditch match reports for Pottermore.

Finally, a look at the wonderfully wacky artwork of Kurt Vonnegut.


A partnership begins

Véra Evseevna Slonim met Vladimir Nabokov at her father’s publishing office, where she worked and he considered translating Dostoyevsky in English.

Their first date is bit murky. He insisted it was at a charity ball; she insisted it most certainly was not. Whatever the case, they married April 15, 1925.

In promising a lifetime of love, she became his lover and confident, his editor and translator, his greatest fan and fiercest protector.

While she destroyed letters she had written to her husband, she hid away her letters from him–which their son eventually found.

“How can I explain to you, my joy, my golden one, my heavenly happiness, just how much I am fully yours – with all of my memories, my poems, impulses and inner tremors?”

Of course, as so often happens, those words contained less passion and more banality as the years wore on. Perhaps, as photos might suggest, time has a way of lessening the need for flowery prose; perhaps, with a partnership built on a lifetime of love and respect, the poetry is in the living . . .






The library

Literary Maps

There I was,  minding my own business, when I happened upon The Literary Gift Co.

Lord, have mercy.

So many bookish delights, so little time.

For instance, take a look at this hand-lettered poster, highlighting 226 geographically connected authors from the U.S.A . . .


And for heaven’s sake, let us not forget those authors from Britain and Northern Ireland . . .

literary_mapOf course, my favorite is the map of children’s literature in Britain . . .

106962 Poster.indd

Perfect for the library, non?