Actually, there are several books that I own multiple copies of, but of all of them I love the Provincial Lady, the nameless semi-autobiographical Devon-based diarist created by EM Delafield in the 1930s, best.
The first novel about the life of this upper-middle class character was originally written as a serial for the magazine Time and Tide and was followed by three more novels: The Provincial Lady Goes Further, The Provincial Lady in America and The Provincial Lady in Wartime. I have this book in an dog-eared Virago omnibus of all four books, a gorgeous Folio Society edition and when I was in the Persephone shop last autumn I discovered that they had produced a gorgeous edition of the first book so I snapped that up too.
As I said in my post about the book I give as a present most often, Persephone’s book are perfect gifts and the Persephone Provincial Lady is a gift that can’t be bettered. Everyone I’ve ever introduced the Provincial Lady (we never learn her name, the books being written as first person diary entries) to has adored her and I re-read regularly when I feel in need of comfort and cheer. Sadly, only my fragile Virago has all four books in so I’m hoping that Persephone will bring out the others too.
If you haven’t discovered her do go and buy a copy – get the Persephone for the sheer tactile pleasure of their Munken paper and perfect grey dustwrapper – and make a new friend.