E.M. Delafield is one of those authors who until very recently I wouldn’t have dreamt of reading, and it’s all thanks to book bloggers that I am now.
This one was first published in 1930 but my copy is a Virago with an introduction by Jilly Cooper. Despite the fact that the book is over 80 years old the whole thing is immediately recognisable, the situations and characters are just the sort of thing that I find myself getting involved in, (minus the servants problem) exasperating things, but when you read about them happening to other people it’s all so funny.
The diary starts off on November 7th and the Provincial Lady – we are never told her name, is struggling with her indoor bulbs and bowls and wondering where she should put them, cellar or attic. Joan Kyler and I were both doing that not so long ago, and there’s about 5,000 miles between us. In fact the whole diary is a sequence of events which are common to most of us, especially if you have children or cats. The cats have unexpected kittens, the children generously give you measles, although in my case it was chicken-pox at the age of 35, toes to scalp!
Thankfully I haven’t had the experience of having to pawn jewellery to pay bills, but then I suspect that a pawnbroker wouldn’t be interested in my rings. On the other hand I have always resisted the temptation to take myself off to the south of France! In that respect it did remind me of Elizabeth’s German Garden (which is mentioned in the book) when Elizabeth merrily orders two hundred rose bushes whilst the household finances are obviously very precarious.
Robert, the husband is such a typical awkward and maddening one, but then he has his moments, although few, when he’s worth his weight in gold. This is a comfort read if ever there was one, something for the times when you can’t bear to watch the news any more. A good laugh!
My copy of the book has a cover which has been designed by Cath Kidston. I know she’s all the rage and it does fit in with the feel of the book but I grew up with wallpaper like this on my bedroom in the 1960s and I was mightily glad when it was covered up by an orange dinner plate sized pattern around about 1970. I know, there’s no accounting for it!