The Diary of a Provincial Lady

bookshelves: winter-20142015, amusing, published-1930, lit-richer, epistolatory-diary-blog, books-about-books-and-book-shops, arch, britain-england, devon, classic, chick-lit

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from December 15 to 27, 2014

Description: E M Delafield was great friends with Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, and became a director of Time and Tide magazine. When the editor “wanted some light ‘middles’, preferably in serial form, she promised to think of something”. And so it was, in 1930, that her most popular and enduring work The Diary of a Provincial Lady was written. It has never been out of print.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady charts the day-to-day life of a Devonshire-dwelling lady and her attempts to keep her somewhat ramshackle household from falling into chaos.

Husband Robert, when he’s not snoozing behind The Times, does everything with grumbling reluctance. Her children are gleefully troublesome. A succession of tricky servants 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, with whom our Provincial Lady eternally (and unsuccessfully) endeavours to compete.

This largely autobiographical novel substituted the names of “Robin” and “Vicky” for her own children, Lionel and Rosamund.

1/5: Our diarist faces a visit from Lady B and begins an ongoing battle with the indoor bulbs.

2/5 Our diarist faces a rather sensitive financial situation which can be put off no longer.

3/5 The Provincial Lady’s household is looking forward to a festive Christmas.

4/5 Disaster strikes as Ethel gives notice, and our Lady heads to London to find a replacement

5/5 Barbara Blenkinsop calls, wishing to discuss an urgent matter.

Abridged by Libby Spurrier
Read by Claire Skinner
Produced by Joanna Green
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

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