In April 1925, at the age of fifteen, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she kept until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing over a million words in forty-five exercise books. What emerges is a portrait of a truly unique, spirited woman and writer. Never before has an account so fully, so honestly, and so vividly captured a single woman’s journey through the twentieth century.
“Jean’s journals are timeless. She leaps out of her own pages, free as she never was in life: you want to protect her, and simultaneously to slap her and cheer her on. It’s very funny, occasionally sobering, and shot through with acute insights. Who would have imagined that the life of a Buckinghamshire bookseller would make you want to turn the pages so fast? I wanted to know how she got through the war, but I was even more interested in when she would lose her virginity.” —Hilary Mantel, New York Times–bestselling author
“Shows us, in close up, how extraordinary the business of an ‘ordinary’ life can be—how much complexity and feeling and humour it can contain.” —The Guardian
“The most moving and important book I read this year by a mile.” —New Statesman
“What makes these diaries such pleasurable reading is one’s sense of the diarist herself: her vibrancy and humour, her idea of life as a battle to overcome and, most of all, her endless supply of hope and her refusal to be beaten.” —Literary Review