|Illustrations by Arthur Watts|
For me the Provincial Lady books are true cozy, comfort reads. And I am a fan of the two that I have read thus far. But a large part of the humor found in these books comes out of the disheveled nature of the Provincial Lady’s lifestyle. And it is that very thing that tends to aggravate my mild OCD. I constantly want to fix her life. I want to balance her checkbook, prioritize her housekeeping tasks, manage her social calendar, and show her a million and one ways she can economize.
And once my mind starts to overwhelm my willing suspension of disbelief, all hell breaks loose. Once I give in to organizing her world I start to question her life choices, and then I end up feeling a little exasperated. Not surprisingly given the title, in this volume the Provincial Lady goes to London. She rents a flat for herself so she can work on her next book, which she never seems to get around to. Caught up in way too many seemingly unpleasant social situations, she doesn’t ever seem to get around to writing anything. And in that sentence is a world of hurt for someone with a brain like mine.
- She needs to set a writing schedule to ensure she has time to maintain her professional commitments.
- She needs to realize that a more effective work schedule would allow her to earn the money she needs to cover her costs.
- She needs to stop being a social suppliant. By taking control of her social life and saying no in the right way and at the right times she would not only preserve more time for her work and things she would prefer to do, but she would also gain a bit of the upper hand–especially since her successful book has increased her social value. A few declined invitations would only add to her social allure, and over time increase her demand allowing her to pick and choose the social occasions that she might actually enjoy.
- Did she really think that busy, distracting, expensive, London was the place to write?
Do you see how pernicious my mind is? The whole point of these Provincial Lady books is to delight in the ditzy chaos of her life. And I do delight in them, but I am also rewriting the script of her life as I chuckle.
And what’s up with her marriage? They seem about as happy together as two strangers waiting for the same bus.
Although my mind works overtime reading these books, I do actually enjoy them. One thing Delafield does particularly brilliantly is the way in which she manages to make the books feel like real diaries. As I have noted in the past:
The diary entries brilliantly capture the episodic, shorthanded cadence so typical of how one thinks about things. Not always in lovely complete sentences, but short bursts of thought, like thousands of brain synapses firing directly onto the page. There is much that made me chuckle in this book. And of course I love a good bit of domestic detail and this book does not disappoint on that account.