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The Diary of a Provincial Lady

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Do I realise, says Lady B., that the Cold Habit is entirely unnecessary, and can be avoided by giving the child a nasal douche of salt-and-water every morning before breakfast?

The one way in which I hope real life deviated from her novel was in the state of her finances. In the book they were horrendous; she was always taking things to be pawned, or rescuing things from the pawnbrokers at the last moment. Her perilous financial situation was exacerbated by her love of new clothes and other luxuries. Another big negative in the book was her husband, who came across as grumpy and monosyllabic. She however appeared to be wholly unperturbed by his reticence. (This seemingly had more to do with the parched expectations of women at the time, and less to do with any positive attributes he may have secretly harboured.)The Suburban Young Man (1928) - Peter has fallen in love with the well-born Antoinette, but his Scottish wife Hope remains in admirable control of the situation. Dedicated "To All Those Nice People who have so often asked me to Write a Story about Nice People". February 28th—Notice, and am gratified by, appearance of a large lump of crocuses near the front gate. Should like to make whimsical and charming reference to these, and try to fancy myself as “Elizabeth of the German Garden”, but am interrupted by Cook….” (I like a number of Elizabeth von Arnim’s novels…) I feel sure that all women who read this book in America will often pause as I did with a nod and smile, perhaps a rueful smile, of agreement.”

Get home—still chilled to the bone owing to enforced detention at Hard Court—and tell Robert what I think of Lady B. ... "The Optimist (1922) - largely dominated by Canon Morchard, an 'utterly impossible clergyman' who starts as a horrible man but becomes quite saintly. Mem.: Should often be very, very sorry to explain exactly what it is that I do mean, and am in fact conscious of deliberately avoiding self-analysis on many occasions. Do not propose, however, to go into this now or at any other time.)"

If you are interested in the 1930s, or you just enjoy undemanding, beautifully written satire, then I recommend you enter the world of The Provincial Lady.

First few paragraphs set the tone for a delightful, light, witty flight into this provincial world. Hairdresser’s assistant says, It’s a pity my hair is losing all its colour, and have I ever thought of having it touched up? After long discussion, I do have it touched up, and emerge with mahogany-coloured head. Hairdresser’s assistant says this will wear off ‘in a few days’. I am very angry, but all to no purpose. Return home in old hat, showing as little hair as possible, and keeping it on till dressing time – but cannot hope to conceal my shame at dinner. (pp.31-32) Note: The workings of the infant mind very, very difficult to follow, sometimes. Mothers by no means infallible.)"

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