Book 8: The Diary of a Provincial Lady (E.M. Delafield)

Another book that I would never have attempted if it weren’t for the indirect recommendation of an author I follow on Twitter.

It is quite a funny diary. The protagonist reminds me a bit of  Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances (my mum’s favourite sitcom but not mine).  Whilst I warmed to the counterpart Mrs Bouquet as a read more of the book, the main problem I had was that I just could not relate to or bring myself to like any of the characters and, for me, that’s the main reason I read a book to the end. I imagine that’s the reason most of us read a book to the end.

At one point, I had the distinct feeling this story was centered around a Mary Poppins-esque family but without the interesting nanny, the strong father presence and the feminist mum, i.e. all the bits that make you want to know what happens to the Banks family. There was even mention of a sweep but he just leaves on a motorbike and not, disappointingly, via paintings leading to adventures with musical penguins.  I think the passage in the diary when the protagonist is on a train and lists all the things that occur in dramas on trains but not in real life then falls asleep and goes for a wash, sums this up nicely. I would rather read about fantastic adventures on the Orient Express. However, I do realise that the point of this book is to make the dullness of life seem funny and engaging.

I did almost stop reading when they drowned the kittens but I guess that says more about me than anything else. I can happily read a book with the graphic murder of innocent humans but not a few lines about the drowning of innocent cats. It was also peppered with French which I refuse to bother to look up – my fault entirely.

All in all, I think I read this because I like the author that recommended it. Wouldn’t be the first time, I should have learned from my previous mistake of reading Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall for similar reasons (just didn’t take to it). Still, despite myself and because the writer of the diary grew on me as I read more, I think I will read the three sequels. Also, they’re short.

5/10 – it got an extra point for being quite funny but I was disappointed.




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