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The milk of paradise: diaries, 1993-1997

The milk of paradise: diaries, 1993-1997

Lees-Milne, James; Bloch, Michael

The final volume of James Lees-Milne's diaries covering the last 5 years of his life, this collection shows that age and infirmity had not diminished his interest in life, as he expresses his views on everything from modern architecture to New Labour

Book. English.
Published London: John Murray, 2005
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Available at Battersea Library and Putney Library.

  • Battersea Library – One available in ANF 700-799 720.92

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    501023665 ANF 700-799 720.92 Adult Non-Fiction Available
  • Putney Library – One available in ANF 900-999 920 LEES

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    500987429 ANF 900-999 920 LEES Adult Non-Fiction Available


Statement of responsibility: James Lees-Milne ; edited by Michael Bloch
ISBN: 0719565804, 9780719565809
Note: Includes index.
Physical Description: xiii, 319 p. ; 24 cm.
Subject: Architects Great Britain Diaries.; Lees-Milne, James Diaries.; Architectural historians Great Britain Diaries.; Great Britain Social life and customs 20th century.

Author note

James Lees-Milne died in 1997. Once Country Houses Secretary of the National Trust, he is now best known for his memoirs and diaries, described by Jeremy Lewis as second to none in their comicality, rueful self-knowledge and feline observations. Michael Bloch, his friend and literary executor, is now writing his life.


The twelfth and final volume of James Lees-Milne's magnificent diary covers the last five years of his life, until a few weeks before his death at the age of eighty-nine.

Old age and infirmity have not diminished his interest in life, and he expresses sharp and original views on everything from modern architecture to New Labour. After the loss of his bossy but beloved wife Alvilde, he devotes himself to visiting friends, observing their habits and relishing their gossip and anecdotes.

Whether describing an afternoon with the Prince of Wales, a week-end at Chatsworth, a nostalgic return to the scenes of his youth or a day at the latest London exhibitions, he displays the same mixture of candour, waspish wit, eloquent exasperation and human understanding which has delighted his readers since the first of these volumes appeared in 1975.


As sharp and amusing, as generous and jaundiced, as ever||'Thoroughly irresistable...sparkles with delicious indiscretion and startling observations'||'The Milk of Paradise is the provocative last testament of a never dull diarist'||Just as querulous, misanthropic, greedy, vain and fascinating as ever. One reads, one deplores - and reads on with vindictive delight||The greatest diarist of our times - funny, feline and disconcertingly honest, wielding a rapier to Alan Clark's cudgel||The elegiac tone, the wintriness, gets to be very moving...A major work of literature||His wonderful diaries demonstrates to anyone with eyes to see that he was a superb chronicler of the human condition||'Funny, shrewd, waspish and wise ... Lees-Milne was the greatest diarist of this century, and one of its finest writers'||'Nothing short of phenomenal ... surely the finest diary of the 20th Century, truly a great masterpiece of English literature'||'Unique ... a 300-page gossip column, studded with apercus worthy of a great novel'||'Alert and idiosyncratic ... James Lees-Milne is without question one of the finest diarists of the 20th century'||'Crammed with bizarre and funny anecdotes ... this volume splendidly rounds off an exceptional enterprise.'||'It is his appealingly genuine tone of self-deprecation that makes so many of his entries endearing.'||'Amusingly irritating, he gives you a fascinating glimpse of what remains of society life today'||'Deserves to be celebrated for [its] candour and compulsive readability'||'The anecdotes are priceless.'||'Altogether an excellent mystery story, which grips the reader all the way through. Contains many ideas which would interest book groups.'||'[Lees-Milne's] final volume sparkles as brightly as its 11 predecessors, still full of gossip, sharp of eye and ear and only occasionally malicious. A bit of a snob? Maybe, but who cares? His delight in both people and places is positively touching'||'[Lees-Milne's] journals are famous for their bitchiness but, in the long run, they are more impressive for their honesty and the way he communicates the small sensations of being alive'||'Some diarists decline in interest as they age. Not Lees-Milne ...wonderful, addictive'||'At times extremely funny, at other times a royal pain in the arse'