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Diaries, 1971-1983 [Hardcover]

James Lees-Milne , Michael Bloch
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

6 Sep 2007

James Lees-Milne (1908-97) has been hailed as the greatest English diarist of the twentieth century. Funny, indiscreet, candid, touching and sharply observed, his journals both reveal a fascinating personality and hold up a mirror to the times. This second compilation from the original twelve volumes (also incorporating interesting new material), covers his life during his sixties and early seventies, when he was living in Gloucestershire with his formidable wife Alvilde. Having made his name as the country house expert of the National Trust and a writer on architecture, he sought to establish himself as a novelist and biographer. With some misgivings he published his wartime diaries, little imagining that it was as a diarist that he would achieve lasting fame. These diaries vividly portray the vicissitudes of a writer's lot, the merry-go-round of life on the Badminton estate of the eccentric Duke of Beaufort, and meetings with many friends including John Betjeman, Bruce Chatwin and the Mitford sisters. But perhaps they are most remarkable for the poignancy with which they depict the writer's own feelings of joy, regret, frustration, amusement and love - including a tendresse for the editor of this volume.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (6 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719566827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719566820
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 16.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,003,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Acute observation is coupled with entertaining literary style and ever-present humour . . . Michael Bloch has edited these diaries formidably well' (Bevis Hillier)

'Woefully funny, elegantly observed, appallingly indiscreet, these diaries are the best record we have of a world still recognizable but fast vanishing beneath the waves of history' (Peter Parker)

'His pages abound in delightful shafts of self-revelation . . . a singularly funny, modest, sweet, lovable gentleman whose controversial prose is yet infused with a poetic vision of the essence of Old England' (Hugh Massingberd)

'Raw emotions, fearlessly expressed, spice every page' (Duff Hart-Davis)

'Always honest, always curious, always lovable' (Lynn Barber)

'What matters the clash of titans, when a clear and fastidious intellect shares its preoccupation with the minutiae of a civilised gentleman's day?' (Alan Clark)

'The qualities which make his diaries addictive reading include a sense of the ridiculous, and a total frankness about whatever shows him at a disadvantage. He is wonderfully observant, and his sheer humanity shines out on every page' (The Field)

'Unquestionably one of the greatest English diarists, a rival to Pepys' (David Watkin)

Book Description

The second of the trilogy of abridged volumes from the diaries praised as 'one of the treasures of English literature'


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely compelling 18 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
Why do I keep reading these diaries? There is hardly a page go by without my saying to myself "Oh I really don't like this man." Snobbish, dreadfully self-opinionated, gay yet homophobic, and polictically so far right he makes Margaret Thatcher look like Madame Trotsky. Yet, he does write with facility, a sharp eye and honesty, and really his world is fascinating. The people he meets, eats with, are invariably interesting, even if it is just for their dreadfulness. But Lees-Milne is a very important diarist, and wonderfully preserved the world he moved in. And I suppose I'm just that teeny bit jealous that my life has not been a quarter as interesting.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An English Life 23 July 2009
By Christian Schlect - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this middle book of the three-volume set to be as good and interesting as the other two.

A most knowledgeable and sympathetic younger friend of Mr. Lees-Milne, Michael Bloch, expertly edited all three. (It is my understanding that Mr. Bloch's formal biography of James Lees-Milne will be available later this year to the public.)

If you might the enjoy good writing of one closely connected to the social and literary life of the upper, or at least educated, class in England during the years of 1971 to 1983 you would profit by reading this book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read In Spite of English Emotional Repression! 25 Aug 2008
By Robert Geary - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I liked Mr. Lees-Milne's first collection enough to buy this collection as well. It's a pity that his marriage gave him the excuse not to publish during its first two decades (the 50s/60s). He just figured that his letters to his wife took enough of his time; hence, no diaries.
He does not use the word gay. Nor does he bother with another word, bisexual. So a reader is left in the dark when a gay person (such as L-M, himself) marries, argues, and stays married. Maybe his role model was a member of his circle, Harold Nicolson, who married a gay person (Vita Sackville-West), cheated in order to keep wp with her cheating, and coped with a gay son (who also married).
Usually, such diaries dwell on meals, appearances, connection to the Royals, and not much else.
bgeary263@live.com (I incl. my address in hopes of hearing from another Anglophile.)
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