by E.M. Delafield
In this, the final of the Provincial Lady's amusing diary-format publications, England has just entered World War II. Popular topics of discussion include gas masks, evacuees from London, fuel rationing, blackout, and speculations as to how long the war might last. The Provincial Lady is keen to contribute to the war effort, but the best she can do for the moment is volunteer for Canteen service... (Covers only the period of the Phoney War and was published in 1940.)
(This was a shared read-aloud.)
Though I am fond of the Provincial Lady, I'd recommend this primarily for two groups of readers-- serious P.L. fans/completists and those interested in firsthand accounts of the English home front during the early part of WWII. It's about on par with The Provincial Lady in America, with neither being as good as the first two books in the series. There's a good deal of repetition, and nothing much happens. It has its amusing moments, but they seem fewer than I remember from the first book or two.
That said, from a historical point of view, it's fascinating to get a "real-time" glimpse into what people were thinking, saying, and doing during the first few months of WWII, when they were essentially marking time, waiting for the war to begin in earnest. Obviously, they had no way of knowing what the future held-- something that is easy to gloss over when reading a traditional, textbook history, always aware of the eventual outcome. Though the book keeps a fairly light, humorous tone, the P.L. and her friends and family must have been under a terrible burden of stress and worry. (I was saddened to learn from another person's review that the author's life took a tragic turn not long after this was published; she lost her son, was taken ill, and didn't live to see the end of the war.)
So-- This was well worth reading, but I imagine that if I ever feel like a re-read, I'll content myself with the first two!