Sara Wheeler

A Nonagenarian Writes

In My Mind's Eye: A Thought Diary

By

Faber & Faber 330pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Jan Morris, at the start of her tenth decade, has written a 188-day ‘thought diary’, ‘having for the moment nothing much else to write’. It is a splendidly quirky confection that mixes the trivial with the serious, like life.

Some of the entries have been published before, as pieces in the Financial Times or the Welsh-language O’r Pedwar Gwynt. Many, as readers might expect, chew over topics that have long fascinated her, including what she calls the ‘ambiguous epic’ of the late British Empire, the ‘swank’ of which she still enjoys, while acknowledging ‘that it was founded upon fundamental injustice’. Among the events covered by the diary is the appearance of her most recent book, the delightful Battleship Yamato (Pallas Athene), a reflection on the ironies of war examined through a portrait of the Second World War Japanese battleship of that name. Morris confesses to feeling the same excitement at seeing it in print as she felt when her first book appeared in 1956. In the preface to Battleship Yamato, she refers to the book as ‘a sort of illustrated reverie, a literary meditation’, a description that equally well sums up her overall style.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,