She could never, looking backwards, remember a time when she had not known that a woman's failure or success in life depended entirely upon whether or not she succeeded in getting a husband When in the company of a young man a dutiful daughter should immediately assume an air of fresh, sparkling enjoyment. She should not speak of being friends with him-a young man is either eligible or he is not-and never, but never, should she get herself talked about, for a young girl who does so is doomed. Men may dance with her, or flirt with her, but they don't propose. It would be quite a coup for a girl to find a husband during her first season, but if, God forbid, three seasons pass without success, she must join the ranks of those sad women who are a great embarrassment to society and, above all, to their disappointed mothers . . . With such thoughts in mind, how can Monica fail to look forward to her first ball?
Born to Count Henry de la Pasture and his novelist wife, Delafield (1890-1943) was brought up according to strict Late Victorian precepts, but failing to ensnare a husband, she entered a convent in Belgium the moment she was 21. Having recovered from this experience she became a VAD, (voluntary nursing for the war effort) and wrote her first novel. Delafield started publishing in her mid twenties and the year her fourth novel Consequences was published, she married Paul Dashwood, a civil engineer turned land agent; three years in Malaya was followed by life in rural Devon. Many of her novels and short stories are semi-autobiographical or stem from her experiences living abroad and in the rural countryside.