Thursday, 1 January 2015

Provincial Daughter - R M Dashwood

I picked this off the shelves at the end of December - wanted something light that could be picked up and put down at random.  We had several "callers-in" just prior to Christmas, my sister was here as a house guest for a week, and then on 30 December we were off to take her home and then on to a supper party nearby with friends, sleeping over and coming home on 31 December.  So I really did read up to the wire on this one, finishing it around 7.30 pm on New Year's Eve.

R M Dashwood was the daughter of E M Delafield, author of The Diary of a Provincial Lady and the books that followed it.  Dashwood says that it was intended as "an equally light-hearted continuation..." of the Provincial Lady books - "...the Provincial Lady's daughter in the nineteen fifties".  Originally published in 1951, it was republished as a Virago Modern Classic in 2002.  And I'm glad, because it was a delight to read.

The nameless writer of the diary with doctor husband Lee, and three charming but dirty, messy and cheeky boys (just like anyone else's kids, I guess!) struggles with never enough housekeeping money, new clothes for the children, idiosincratic husband, friends who are always better dressed than she.  Also the worry of a thickening waist - just like us all, in that she thinks she is fatter than she was (even though clothes that are years old still fit, thank goodness!); the search for the husband's dress shirt eventually found in a bag in the bottom of the wardrobe where she stuffed it after last year's annual wearing; the expensive outing to London to a top class hairdresser recommended by a friend which was fine until washed....... It may be a little out of date, but it reminded me that nothing really changes.  She's desperate to write - anything really, short stories, articles for newspapers, comments she hopes the BBC will broadcast, and we follow her whilst she clears up after another family disaster or three.  It made me smile a lot, and laugh out loud a couple of times.  If you see it somewhere and you like the diary format, I'm sure you'll enjoy this quick read - I did!

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