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Beneath a Waning Moon: Diaries, 1985-1987 Hardcover – 13 Oct 2003
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Bloch has done a magnificent job editing the diaries, providing excellent footnotes to guide us through this grand social ... They are a wonderful window into a dying realm of stately living, which also grants just a few glimpses of the modern world (Geordie Grieg, LITERARY REVIEW)
By turns hilarious, outrageous, acute and touching (James Ferguson, The Independent)
My favourite diarist of this century (Alan Clark)
Unquestionably one of the greatest English diarists, a rival of Pepys (David Watkin, Country Life)
[Lees-Milne is] as sharp-tongued, melancholy, jaundiced and reactionary a commentator as ever lived. ... he has the keenest of interests in life ... he is scathingly honest with and about himself (The Guardian)
Treasure chest of diary gossip ... brutally honest as ever (The Countryman)
The Diaries remain packed with delicious malice and snobbery (The Field)
A good diarist constructs a series of information time-bombs, set to detonate long after the events he describes have taken place. And, in a gentle sort of way, that is just what James Lees-Milne has done. There will definitely be a few intakes of breath in certain grandees' drawing rooms ... What distinguishes this diary is the cast. There is a good cross-section of people who had a particular social significance. James Lees-Milne was an inveterate socialiser. Never a day passes when he is not at Brooks's or some stately home or whizzing off to see somebody. The diaries are a wonderful window into a dying realm of stately living, which also grants just a few glimpses of the modern world (Geordie Grieg, Literary Review)
James Lees-Milne has been described as 'the finest, frankest and funniest diarist of the twentieth century'; and his sharpness and wit are undiminished in this, the tenth volume of the series.See all Product description
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The diaries could not be anything but interesting, but the joy of discovery and curious interest which filled the earlier diaries is fading.
I am not convinced by the editorial skill. The footnotes range from the bland and pointless (does a reader of these diaries really need to be told that John Gielgud was an actor?) to the distinctly prurient. Indeed, throughout the diaries, the veil of discretion has been drawn aside, and one wonders, sometimes, to what purpose other than the purely sensational.
I could not fail to recommend the diaries, and they are, for all their failings, a fascinating read, but I do wonder whether JL-M's literary heritage is being well served, and look forward to the next instalment with a mixture of anticipation and foreboding.
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