by E.M. Delafield
In this installment of the "Provincial Lady" series, the titular Lady visits America for a whirlwind tour and a number of speaking engagements. On her itinerary are New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Washington, and (in Canada) Toronto. The highs and lows of travel abroad are treated with her usual humorous touch-- and we American readers are obviously interested to learn what she thought of our national forbears.
This was a shared read-- always great for comedic works like this one.
The general consensus (in the handful of reviews I've glanced over) seems to be that, while still pleasingly amusing and witty, this is not quite as amusing as the earlier Provincial Lady books. I think I agree.
As for why this book is weaker, it's probably a number of small things in combination. Certain aspects are repetitive, for one. For another, the constant state of rush made me almost tired to read! (I probably need a nap, though, and that may have something to do with it.) The revolving door of characters didn't help, though that is an undeniable aspect of any whirlwind tour. (Ironically, when the P.L. was reunited with a familiar face-- Mademoiselle-- I was mildly irritated, because I'm not always adept at translating her French, even though context clues make up for any uncertainty.) Then there's the possibility that the author was running out of ideas and that the concept of the P.L. was getting slightly stale.
Quibbles aside, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Her casual observations of America and Americans were interesting-- her remarks on American hospitality and vitality. Though she didn't visit the South in her travels, there were at least a few encounters with Southern characters. Mostly all they did was insist that she must see the South and point out that people told them they hadn't lost their Southern accent even after so many years of living in the North. (...So basically we're reduced to our accent! (g) Well, that's ok. At least it wasn't insulting.)
In the end, I was as ready for her to get back home as she was, I think! Whew! Even arm chair travels are enough to exhaust me, these days...