The Provincial Lady in Wartime

The Provincial Lady in Wartime, by E. M. Delafield

I just adore the Provincial Lady, don't you?  If you haven't tried her books, do so--they are very funny.  The P. L. does not have a name, since she is writing in her diary, and she has a casual style with most of the articles and personal pronouns left out.  I think it's supposed to be partly word economy and partly a lady's training to never say I (one says one, so as not to sound egotistical; of course, to modern ears saying one sounds incredibly snobbish!).  Fun fact: the first P. L. book I read was the 5th, The Provincial Lady Goes to Russia, so that was kind of an odd introduction.  I still haven't read the America book.

The war has just broken out, and the Lady is swamped with gasmasks, evacuees that never arrive or that arrive in the middle of the night, and an elderly (but sensible and affectionate) aunt.  Like everyone else in the country, she is desperate to get war work, so off she goes to London to get a job writing for the Government (she'll commute!  From Devon!).  But this is the "Phoney War" period--nothing is really happening yet and the enormous war machine of WWII is not yet in operation.  Everyone wants a job; there are no jobs.  The Lady feels herself very fortunate to find unpaid volunteer work at an ARP canteen, taking all the worst shifts.

The canteen is filled with young drivers and workers either rushing about or doing nothing while they wait for a war to happen, plus a cast of odd characters.  Nothing much actually happens, but it's very funny to read.  I love the P. L.'s wit, and I giggled a lot while reading this book, probably annoying everyone around me.

Since the war hasn't really gotten going yet, rationing is not yet in force.  I'm used to reading books set during the rationing period, and everyone seemed to be eating like kings here!  They had lovely sausages, and eggs, and gingerbread and all sorts of delightful yummies that they are about to lose. Now I want to bake some gingerbread.

This is officially my first book on my lovely new tablet!  It's easier to read on, very nice.

The Provincial Lady lives in Devon, when she's not camping in London.


  1. I really want to read this series but I haven't been able to find any of the books at a library. I so enjoyed your review that I may just have to splurge and buy one.

    What type of tablet did you get? I love the look of the IPad but my Macbook bugs my eyes sometimes, so I'm worried about getting an IPad for reading. My cheap little Kindle, however, is easier on my eyes than a book (if I have to admit it!) :-)

  2. I got all five PL books in a package deal on Kindle for something like $2. Totally worth it. They are not easy to find in the US.

    My new tablet is an Android--a Samsung Galaxy Tab S. They're rolling out a new model so this is the one on sale now. The screen is really nice, I must say. I like having an Android--Ihave 5 or 6 different reading apps and I can read almost any file format, though possibly not the iPad's.


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