Diaries are rarely page-turners in my experience. This is unputdownable. We're lucky to have this record of an articulate, high-spirited young woman's éducation sentimentale; that it all takes place in blitz-torn London is, like Pepys witnessing the Great Fire, merely a bonus. The lack of prefatory matter or notes*, at least in this edition, is also a bonus; we are plunged straight in as though we had come upon these notebooks (reproduced on endpapers and back of dustjacket**) in an attic. Though, like its two sequels, it's not best served by its catchpenny title; some day, one must hope, Wyndham's combined biographical writings will see the light with the dignity they deserve (that both Pepys and Joanie would have scorned)
As for love, it is hard to put it better than this (25/9/40): You can't write about sensuality mingled wirh tenderness and pity, it just becomes maudlin or goes bad on you in some way - so call it love and leave it at that
*not even for the cheerful coinage 'twimmock', inspired amalgam of tw*t, qu*m (synonyms, these) and hillock (with an echo of b*ll*ck) that probably dates from her Catholic boarding school days. There's also an early sighting of 'camp'
**though the Natasha Ledwidge front cover (woman unhooking suspender belt) manages to be both feeble and mildly unbecoming, I suppose in imitation of the Lilliput artwork of the period; her covers for the two sequels are even cruder - artistically, that is!