This book always makes my list of top ten favourite titles. Others may come and go but the Diary of a Provincial Lady is always there and always will be as I can never imagine tiring of reading it. This year EM Delafield is out of copyright and I am hoping that many of her unknown books will be rediscovered and republished. I have many by this author but there are some that are difficult to find and, if you do, are very expensive. Fortunately, I started collecting her books years ago before prices really took off.
This picture is of three Persephone books which I am looking forward to reading. There is no need for me to re-read DOPL in order to review it as I more or less know it off by heart. Now some have questioned the need for Persephone to publish a book which is already in the public domain and in so many easy to obtain editions, but I hold no truck with that. The more DOPL is published, the happier I will be as I would love everyone, and I mean, everyone to read and enjoy this superb book.
Also, one can never have too many Persephone books on ones shelves and to have this book in the familiar format with the dove grey cover and the matching bookmark is such a pleasure. I have been stroking it and drooling ever since it arrived. And, of course, I started reading it and as the familiar phrases unfolded before me I realised I had better stop else I would be up all night. The extract below from the beginning of DOPL never fails to make me smile. Lady Boxe has called and finds the Provincial Lady planting indoor bulbs.
"Do I know she asks, how very late it is for indoor bulbs?....Do I know that the only really reliable firm for hyacinths is Somebody of Haarlem? Cannot catch the name of the firm which is Dutch but reply Yes, I do know but think it my duty to buy Empire products. Feel at the time, and still think, that this is an excellent reply. Unfortunately, Vicky comes into the drawing room later and says "O Mummie, are those the bulbs we got at Woolworths?"
Illustrations by Arthur Watts and a perceptive afterword by Nicola Beaumann, founder of Persephone, which sums up Delfield perfectly. I do disagree with one point however and that is that it would be doing a 'disservice to sit down and read the four Provincial Lady volumes straight through. Because they were written as weekly instalments, repetition and exaggeration are inevitable'. I have my old Virago edition of DOPL which has all the four volumes in one and I have frequently read them one after the other as once I start I simply have to go on and I love them all.
If you have not read this marvellous book yet, I can only say What are You Waiting for? Get thee hence and buy and when you have bought this edition and loved it, then off you trot and read the others. You know it makes sense......
Links to other posts on Random relating to EM Delafield.