The Persephone Book of Short Stories: Holiday Group by E. M. Delafield


E. M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady has been on my wishlist forever, but I never got around buying a copy. After reading Holiday Group, now I have moved it up on my list. 😀

Holiday Group written in 1926 is about a young family. Reverend Herbert Cliff-Hay, the father of the family has recently come into a small fortune. After paying debts, setting aside money for the education of two sons and opening up a Post Office Savings Account for the daughter, there is still some money remaining. So Herbert suggests taking a vacation – or a second honeymoon as he calls it to his wife, Julia who, however, does seem reluctant at first to go along with it. They have never taken a vacation before after they had kids, so there are so many things to figure out before they go away. But finally, she caves in.

We can see signs of a disastrous vacation from the moment they leave the house. Just before leaving the house their youngest, Theodore soils himself. Constance, their daughter needs constant assurance that she will get a spade. Martin, their elder son almost gets into a fight with Constance on who gets to sit in front on Herbert’s lap. It is Julia who deals with all these. Things do not get better when they reach Eventide, their vacation rental. The women there are not helpful with the kids and on top of it, Julia has to prepare meals for their family. Without the help of their servant like when they are at home, Julia is exhausted fulfilling all these tasks by herself. Herbert, despite his good intentions, is no help when it comes to dealing with the kids, and does not seem to understand how tiring it must be because at the end of their two-week vacation he suggests to Julia that they should do it every year!

Holiday Group takes a hard look at motherhood. Although Julia adores her children, they are a handful. At one point during their vacation, Julia looks back into her own life and recalls how tired her mother was and the reluctance her mother showed during their family vacations, which was incomprehensible to Julia at the time. It made me think of the times my mother told me “You will realize one day when you have kids!”, but not disheartened yet and still with hopes to prove her wrong one day, I am putting this post to an end! 😉


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