Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Provincial Lady Goes Further

The Provincial Lady Goes Further
by E.M. Delafield

This is the second in the Provincial Lady series and takes up where Diary of a Provincial Lady left off. The Provincial Lady takes a flat in London where she meets assorted literati and other types, goes to cabarets and casinos and writes about new and memorable characters even as she continues to cope with Robin, Vicky, Robert, Mademoiselle and Lady B.

My Reaction (with mild SPOILERS):
(Shared read-aloud.)

The Provincial Lady is just as amusing here as in the first book.  Mademoiselle's (almost complete) departure from the family means that there is less French to stumble through, which is an improvement.  The Provincial Lady's time in London feels like an endless round of not-quite-pleasant evenings at parties.  There are also references to more cosmopolitan (i.e. scandalous) doings than I recall from the first book, which was set in the country (...thus the "Provincial" Lady).  Some of the topical references flew right over our heads, I'm afraid, but more often than not, there was a cozy recognition of the universal human experience-- that comfortable sensation of "the more things change, the more they stay the same". 

While reading these first two Provincial Lady books, we've repeatedly commented on the odd financial circumstances of the Lady and her family.  They seem always to be worried about a shortness of funds.  It's practically a hobby of the Lady's to hold the bankers at bay-- and yet they employ a cook and a maid.  Then there's Mademoiselle and Casabianca, boarding school for both children, and a vacation in France-- to say nothing of the London flat!  Clearly the Lady and her family are fairly well off (certainly not starving)-- but she's consistently stressed about money!  I know it's meant to be funny-- and the Lady likely considers Cook an absolute necessity--  but the family's strange relationship with money is the one aspect of the books that is hardest for a modern, middle-class reader to completely grasp (much less sympathize with).