'Lady B. stays to tea. (Mem.: Bread-and-butter too thick. Speak to Ethel.) We talk some more about bulbs, the Dutch School of Painting, our Vicar's wife, sciatica, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (Query: is it possible to cultivate the art of conversation when living in the country all the year round?)'
If the question suggests a qualified answer, there is no doubt that the art of diary writing is alive and well and very, very funny in Devonshire in the 1920s. At least in the hands of E. M. Delafield. Though poles apart in many ways, Bridget Jones's Diary could not have existed without her sometimes arch, often lofty, but deeply English upper middle class forbear.
Diary of a Provincial Lady is a classic of its time, revealing the thoughts and concerns of a Lady embedded in family life and the mores of comfortable country life. She has a husband 'raised to the peerage', two children and servants; she is burdened by the superior Lady Boxe, the tiresome vicar's wife and the constant temptation to live beyond her monthly household allowance. But she soldiers on, recording her days with acute observation, wit, self-deprecation and colour.
A balance to the Bloomsbury intensity of the day, this is a classic that has never been out of print and now comes to life in this pitch-perfect reading by Georgina Sutton.
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