Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Provincial Lady Goes Further

June 18th. Heatwave continues and everybody says How lovely it must be in the country, but personally I think it is lovely in London and am more than content.  
I've always said that the first volume of the Provincial Lady's diary is the best but I'm now going to Eat My Words because I've been re-reading The Provincial Lady Goes Further and finding it rather wonderful.

In this second volume the Prov Lady has had considerable literary success but this has not translated into very much cash and she is still tormented by her limited budget for clothes and the presents she would like to buy for the children.  She has however, rented a property in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, the heart of literary London, where she has time and space to write and can attend bookish events with 'dear Rose'.

Sadly, there is very little Lady B in this volume - she has moved abroad - but there is plenty of Our Vicar's Wife, Robert the undemonstrative husband, children Robin and Vicky and even Mademoiselle makes a welcome appearance.  Helen Wills is still around but thankfully has not produced any more kittens and Cook as usual has the last word.  There is also the scandalous Pamela Pringle who rings up in the middle of the night asking the Prov Lady to cover for her numerous indiscretions.

As always the Prov Lady is dissatisfied with her appearance but philosophically concludes that it is Useless to Struggle against Middle-Age.  She has no truck with  pretentious literary types and is quite capable of skewering sycophants with her wit.  She feels guilty about sending Vicky to boarding school and worries about Robin.  Her account of taking Vicky to half-term Sports at Robin's school and dissolving into tears when he wins a cup is very poignant.

As always I find myself fascinated with the details of 1930's England - Lyons tea shops, shampoo and sets, dresses made of delaine and tussore, Time and Tide magazine and rainy picnics.

I'm now re-reading The Provincial Lady in America.  Which is your favourite?


Audrey said...

I've been aware of these books but haven't read the ... now I really want to! Absolutely my cup of tea. :)

mary said...

I have always ached for a subscription to Time and Tide!
I see you're re-reading Emma. So am I, several years since the last time and I'm astonished how many nuances passed me by - or maybe I just don't recall them very well. Hadn't realised that Mr Knightley was a bit short of cash - he really needed Emma to grow up and marry him!

Kat said...

I loved your post! I haven't thought of the Provinical Lady books in years. Can't remember which is the favorite, but it's probably time to reread them.

Arti said...

I'd rather be in London too... but of course, the Lake Districts must be beautiful in the summer. I was there several years ago and still have fond memories. Would love to go back to visit England... anytime. ;)

Iris said...

I have only read the first one, but have the rest on the shelf. I should remember to pick it up when in need of a comfort read. Thank you :)

LizF said...

I adore the first one but haven't read either of the others so I am now off to try and track them down (hopefully at a reasonable price!)
Love those hardback copies of Emma and the first Provincial Lady but really can't justify the indulgence when I have perfectly good paperback copies and money is tight!

Cathy at Potterjotter said...

Oh, gosh... I went straight from Diary of a Prov Lady to Prov Lady in America, without realising there was one inbetween!! I shall have to get it now and read them all again in the right order. I liked America, but not as much as the first. I too love that era. xCathy

Anbolyn said...

I have only read about 1/4 of the first one as I only pick it up when I am between books. I love the humor and the period details - very fascinating!

Sunday Taylor said...

I have only read the first one and now can't wait to read the sequel. Thanks for the tip!

Cath said...

I've only read the first one, clearly it's time I moved on as this second one sounds like huge fun. I have them all in a Virago omnibus edition but I also own that lovely edition of book one that you have.

Grad said...

I think I downloaded an E.M. Delafield onto my Kindle but have not read it yet. I think she is one of the Persephone Books authors,isn't she? I believe that is how I came to hear about her. Now, after reading this post, I really want to. Her real name was apparently Edmee Dashwood! I think I would have kept my name. It sounds lovely - especially for an author.

LizF said...

Shows how long it has been since I read the first Provincial Lady - I had completely forgotten that my copy is the Virago omnibus!
My only excuse is that I read the first one while in hospital after giving birth to senior daughter (now 27 and an expectant mum herself!)and then got discharged to start life as mother of two under 2's when reading took a back seat!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Clearly, I am WAY behind and need to catch up with this Provincial Lady!

Nan said...

I am so very fond of TPL, the books of course but mostly the woman herself. I think it would be fun to read all the books one right after the other. I plan to reread the first one, beginning on the day it begins, Nov 7. :<)

Christian said...


Penny said...

This is part of my Virago Omnibus edition, but I'm so envious of that beautiful copy in your illustration! I must go back to The Provincial Lady, but her husband annoys me so much! She deserves better!!!

Vintage Reading said...

Audrey, I think you will enjoy them - particularly the first book - please post if you do read them.

Mary, they should revive Time & Tide! Yes I think the genius of Austen is such that you see more with each re-read. Emma is fabulous and it's not even my favourite Austen!

Kat, first volume of the Prov Lady is one of my favourite comfort reads. Along with Little Women, of course!

Arti, never seen the Lake District, it's on my to do list!

Iris, yes first volume is classic comfort reading!

LizF, I agree that the price of hardbacks is atrocious but then I suppose the authors need to make a living, too!

Cathy, first is def the best. Favourite comfort reading!

AnBolyn I would love to read your take on Diary of a Prov lady.

Sunday, please post if you do read them. They are great fun and poignant, too.

Cath, I've got the Virago omnibus, too, the small print is hard on the eye though!

Grad. yes I believe Persephone have published one of her novels, but not the Prov Lady. Virago have published that. Edmee is a truly lovely name - I believe her mother was French.

Lizf, I didn't read for 5 years when my girls were little - too tired!!!

Natalie, you are and you must!!

Nan, oh good idea to read it when the diaries begin. I will look out for your posts!

Christian, it is!

StuckInABook said...

PLGF is my favourite - it's also the first one I read, which might be why I love it so much? But they're all wonderful, of course.

I think I like the satire of literary society in this one - because we don't lose the satire of domestic life from the first one, it's just an added bonus. (Do I mean satire? Not quite... but, you know what I mean.)