Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield (Facebook group reading challenge)


This wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  I thought it was going to be rather prim and stuffy: instead, it was like Bridget Jones’s Diary in inter-war Devon!   This must be where Helen Fielding got a lot of her ideas from, surely.  The Provincial Lady sounds exactly like Bridget.  She even writes notes to self, although she puts “mem”.  The style of writing seemed almost identical to me.  And so I thoroughly enjoyed this, which I didn’t really think I would.

The Provincial Lady’s general scattiness, and the way in which she keeps ending up doing slightly the wrong thing in social settings and being intimidated by more confident people – notably one Lady Boxe – are very reminiscent of Bridget, as is the way she stays hopeful and keeps on trying, but her life is very different.  She’s a Smug Married, with two children, and servants; and, living in a different time, she doesn’t work, but is involved with various committees and spends a lot of time visiting friends – but it never seems boring

Her attempts at impressing people and doing what’s expected, and the way in which she usually falls short, are rather endearing.  However, she also spends a lot of time bemoaning her financial position, and it’s hard to sympathise when she keeps going on holiday, buying things she doesn’t need, and not paying tradesmen’s bills.   But, all in all, it’s a very amusing and entertaining book.  I can’t get over how much it reminded me of Bridget Jones’s Diary, though!   I’ve mentioned this to a few people, and some have agreed with me and some haven’t, but I personally am convinced that Helen Fielding knows this book very well indeed!