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Old 03-04-2017, 01:19 AM   #8
sun surfer
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I nominate:


Diaries, 1942-1954 by James Lees-Milne. I originally wanted to nominate Ancestral Voices: Diaries, 1942-1943 but alas it is not available electronically. I was also tempted by his Some Country Houses and Their Owners but it also isn't available as ebook. I might've nominated one of those anyway, but I found Diaries, 1942-1954 is available as an ebook so thought it the more copastetic.

This is actually his first five books of diaries (including Ancestral Voices which is the first) all together along with some passages not originally published. However this is an abridged version of those first five books. I suppose that means some of the less enticing bits removed. This book is about 500 pages while his original first five books of diaries were about 250 each, so it would seem more than half the material has been removed to make this book. I would've liked the shorter and more complete Ancestral Voices but as Lees-Milne abridged his own diaries as well neither version would really be 'complete' and besides this one covers much more ground in a brisker fashion.

From Goodreads:

Quote:
James Lees-Milne (1908-97) made his name as the country house expert of the National Trust and for being a versatile author. But he is now best known for the remarkable diary he kept for most of his adult life, which has been compared with that of Samuel Pepys and hailed as 'a treasure of contemporary English literature'. The first of three, this volume covers its first dozen years, beginning with his return to work for the National Trust during the Second World War, and ending with his tempestuous marriage to the exotic Alvilde Chaplin. The diary vividly portrays the hectic social life of London during the Blitz, when in the intervals between struggling to save a disintegrating architectural heritage he enjoys a dizzying variety of romantic experiences with both sexes. His descriptions of visits to harassed country-house owners are as perceptive as they are hilarious. With the war's end, the mood changes as he portrays a world of gloom and austerity. He shares the prevailing pessimism, yet during these years arranges the transfer of some of England's loveliest houses to the safe keeping of the National Trust.Finally he escapes from England to live on the Continent with his beautiful paramour, yet remains restless and dissatisfied. The diaries of James Lees-Milne were originally published in twelve volumes between 1975 and 2005. Michael Bloch, James Lees-Milne's literary executor and editor of the last five volumes of the complete work, has produced this skilful compilation from the first five volumes -- including interesting new material omitted from the original publications.

Edited: I'm removing another nomination of mine as after looking closer I think it's more a novel though heavily based on real experiences. To make up for that not-quite-nonfiction book that not-quite-fits this category, I'll instead put in this last-minute addition that I think could lead to an interesting discussion on the book with diverse views-

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

From Goodreads:

Quote:
From one of America's iconic writers, this is a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. This is a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill.

At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve - the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary.

In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion's 'attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself'. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.

Last edited by sun surfer; 03-04-2017 at 01:53 AM.
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