Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Provincial Lady in America

Miss S. of the Post-Office draws me aside to ask if it is true that I am going to America? I admit that it is, and we agree that America is a Long Way Off.
I’m not sure about the cover of this Penguin Modern Classics edition of The Diary of a Provincial Lady, somehow it doesn’t say 1930's to me. Good introduction by Rachel Johnson, though. With each re-read I’m struck by how fresh and funny these fictional diaries are. I’ve also read the Violet Powell biography of E M Delafield but I think we are overdue for another examination of her life and work.
Invited by her American publishers to take a literary tour of the United States the Prov Lady boards the passenger liner for the crossing and finds herself feted in America although (as usual) her wardrobe never quite comes up to scratch and she bitterly misses Robin and Vicky and Robert. Her publishers have her on a relentless schedule, but upon reaching Boston she insists on taking a trip to Concord to visit the family home of Louisa M Alcott.
All is snow, silence and loveliness, with frame-houses standing amongst trees, and no signs of either picture-houses, gasoline-stations or hot-dog stalls. Can think of nothing but Little Women, and visualise scene after scene from well-remembered and beloved book.  
Could willingly remain there for hours and hours. Time, however, rushes by with its usual speed when I am absorbed and happy.
This theme comes up again when the Prov Lady runs into Mademoiselle in New York and they go to see a film of Little Women. This must have been the 1933 film with Katherine Hepburn as Jo March.
Home again where Robert is Glad to See Her and Our Vicar’s Wife hopes they will come to tea on Thursday, five o’clock, not earlier because of Choir Practice.


Karen K. said...

I loved the series also but never made it through The Provincial Lady in Russia, it was quite dreary and never seemed to go anywhere.

And I agree that the cover photo is all wrong -- it seems much more 1950s than 1930s!

Audrey said...

I have been saving these books for a special occasion for far too long. And I would love to see what she thinks of Boston! (And I agree about the cover...)

Nadia A said...

I've never even heard of this series and feel like I'm missing out. I'm jotting down the title, so I don't forget to get my hands on a copy. I agree that the cover doesn't say 1930s at all.

Cath said...

I've only ever read the first book of the series even though I own all of them in a Virago omnibus edition. Given how much I like America I must get around to this one.

Cosy Books said...

I had a gem of a find at an antique/flea market show a few years ago. First edition copy of this book with a fabulous cover - sitting in a book of cast-offs for only $2 each. I haven't read it yet but your post is inspiring, Nicola!

Vintage Reading said...

Karen, I want to read The Prov Lady in Russia, I have read mixed reviews, but I'm a bit of a completest!

Audrey, you must read it. Fascinating social history of 1930s America(she admires American hospitality) and funny, too.

Nadia, she had a singular British humour, hope you enjoy!

Cath, yes, I've got the Virago omnibus, too. I think you would like the Prov Lady in America.

Cosy Books, I dream of a find like that. I only ever see cast-off copies of Fifty Shades of Grey!

Arti said...

That certainly is a modern-looking book cover. And, speaking of Little Women, do you know there's a new movie adaptation in development right now, screenplay by Greta Gerwig. I think she would definitely modernize her heroines a bit.

Terra Hangen said...

I have this book and your review reminds me to go find it and read it.

Vintage Reading said...

Arti, no I didn't know about a new Little Women film. It's always interesting to see how a new writer interprets it.

Terra, I think you would enjoy it!

Kat Adelaide said...

I found the Provinical Lady books absolutely hysterical. Sometime early this century, the New Yorker ran an article about their reissue by Chicago Review Press and the women in my family all read them. I love Penguins but this isn't my favorite Provinical Lady cover, either.

Vintage Reading said...

Kat, hi, I'd like to read that New Yorker article. I love that all the women in your family read them! I'm hoping someone will come up with a new biography of E M Delafield.

Peggy Ann said...

Oh no, the only one I have is The Provencial Lady goes to Russia and Karen K said it is dreary! I'll have to look for another one. Agree, this cover is NOT the 30's!