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?