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- Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 544 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 192mm x 38mm | 358g
- Publication date: 23 July 2009
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0719568390
- ISBN 13: 9780719568398
- Sales rank: 283,364
Despite advancing years, James Lees-Milne's descriptions of the people he meets, the houses he visits and country life on the Duke of Beaufort's Badminton estate are sharper than ever. He continues to enjoy a wide variety of experiences, and vividly recaptures a weekend at Chatsworth, a monastic retreat, a journey in a helicopter, an encounter with Mick Jagger and an intimate lunch with the Prince of Wales. As the grand old man of country house conservation, he becomes a media celebrity, but declines a CBE and refuses to be photographed by Lord Snowdon. In old age, he draws close to his formidable wife Alvilde, whose death in 1994 both shatters and liberates him, but he remains emotionally interested in members of his own sex. As always, he is a penetrating commentator on the times. A tour of the Cotswolds makes him ruefully aware of the yuppy trends of the Thatcher era, while he predicts that the victory of New Labour will herald a descent into American-style vulgarity and yob culture. Witty, waspish, poignant and self-revealing, James Lees-Milnes last diaries contain as much to delight as the first, and confirm his reputation as one of the twentieth century's great English diarists.
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Michael Bloch read law at St Johns College, Cambridge, and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. Appointed James Lees-Milnes literary executor in 1997, he edited the final five volumes of the complete diary and is currently writing his biography.
Praise for the earlier volumes in the series A master of the diary form, he combines the profound and the inconsequential with his pithy descriptions of personalities and places ... For their range of interests and emotions, their piquant observation and judicious shifts of self-analysis, Lees-Milnes diaries deserve their august reputation Christopher Silvester, Daily Express These diaries, superbly abridged by Michael Bloch, have a fin de Proust atmosphere of delicate regret, sprinkled with gossipy asides Miranda Seymour, Guardian Lees-Milne latecomers will find no better introduction to the diarist than this anthology of his earliest journals ... Reading these is a mix of shame and delight ... Hes the best company, beautifully frank, funny and addictive Evening Standard James Lees-Milnes beautiful style and pace remind one how it should be done ... His passion for buildings and for literary heritage runs through the diary and yet is equalled by a passion for understanding character Observer These diaries offer a peerless portrait of stately homes and their owners at their lowest ebb ... James Lees-Milne is the Man who Saved Britain Max Hastings, Daily Mail 'A very good writer' Contemporary Review