Now, this is probably the book which will best guide you in an understanding of my literary tastes. Perhaps even whispering the word ‘Persephone‘ would do that for many of you? Early twentieth-century domestic fiction doesn’t come better than today’s entry.
Next to be presented for inclusion in ’50 books…’ is The Provincial Lady, possibly well known to a lot of you out there. If it’s not, then BUY IT! Yes, it is not often that I shall wander into the forceful, but I cannot see any valid reason why this book is not in every household. Possibly several times. For backing up on this, may I direct you to the enthused ear of Random Jottings, one of my oldest (by which I mean, of course, longest-standing) e-friends. We bonded over EM Delafield about three years ago, and have sent a flurry of her books back and forth – is there a better basis for friendship than sharing a cherished author? Can’t think of many.
For those who don’t know, this is a fictional diary, based heavily on Delafield’s own life and family. Not a great deal happens, but as we meander through the struggles of middle-class village life, the heroine’s resigned, deadpan approach to everything becomes utterly irresistible. The book you see in the photo contains all four in the series – The Diary of a Provincial Lady; The Provincial Lady Goes Further (my favourite); The Provincial Lady in America; The Provincial Lady in Wartime. For stateside readers, the fourth of those is ‘…in London’. Don’t be fooled by The Provincial Lady in Russia. This was initially published as Straw Without Bricks, and is an account of Delafield’s time in a Soviet collective (!!), and only later did publishers see the potential profit in labelling it one of the series.
Alongside the book is the cassette. Dramatised, with Imelda Staunton as PL, and rather wonderful – do try and track it down if you can.
And once you’ve read Provincial Lady… well, I love As Others Hear Us, Faster! Faster!, Mrs. Harter… I do hope Random Jottings will comment and give us further info, for she is the true mine of knowledge on all things EMD. As is this website – it includes extracts, which should lure you in.
In other news, today was the Grand National. The Clan have an annual habit of picking a horse each, based entirely upon name and colours. This year, failing to notice one was called Simon, I plumped for Silver Birch – on the basis that Richmal Crompton wrote a book of short stories with the title. And it won! Shame our bets are of the imaginary kind…