The eighth volume of James Lees-Milne's acclaimed diaries is unlike its predecessors, in that it shows Lees-Milne developing an overwhelming "tendresse" for a much younger man. As candid in writing about himself as about others, he records the doubt, happiness, guilt and other turbulence that accompany an emotion he did not expect to feel again. This is the first volume to be edited not by the diarist himself but his literary executor, the friend in question.
The text deals with much else besides love and its difficulties. Lees-Milne writes the biography of his friend Harold Nicolson, sometimes in the process worsting his publisher, the formidable Norah Smallwood of Chatto & Windus. With Derek Hill (but without an importunate Bruce Chatwin) he twice visits Mount Athos, recording the delights and discomforts of a spiritual journey to the Holy Mountain. Both the man and his period are irresistibly present in these pages, as one minute he is exasperated by Labour's "winter of discontent", or predicts incineration by Soviet attack, and in the next recreates the values and friendships of an earlier, gentler age.
Here he is as engaging and readable as ever, mixing candour and an often malicious wit with generosity of spirit and sympathy for human frailty. As always, he writes with the sharp eye of a novelist and is amusingly observant about inconstancies of feeling and opinion, especially his own. Diffident, penetrating, thoughtful, prejudiced, not always admirable in his own self-estimation, he inspires the same affection in print as he did in life.
|Publisher:||Murray, John Publishers, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.91(d)|