Elisa Segrave

Dear Diary

Diary of an Ordinary Woman

By

Chatto & Windus 406pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

MARGARET FORSTER IS the author of this fictional diary, a revelation which disappointed this reader; a compulsive diarist myself, I had thought it was genuine. Forster’s invented diarist is a Miss Millicent King, who begins writing her diary in November 1914 and continues into the 1990s. It therefore spans almost a century and encompasses two world wars. Forster’s fictional introduction tells how in 1999 she was approached by Millicent’s nephew’s wife Joanna. Joanna had read Forster’s memoir Hidden Lives about her mother and grandmother and hoped therefore that she might ‘make something’ of the journals of this other ‘ordinary’ woman. Forster describes meeting first Joanna, then Millicent herself, in Millicent’s West Country cottage. She decides to edit all her diaries. As Millicent – ninety-eight and five foot tall – hands Forster her first twenty-five volumes, she states: ‘I never lied to them . . . never once lied.’ I must say that I believed all this.

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

    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • '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… ,