Jan Morris is a former journalist for The Times, an author of over 40 books and has been described as one of the greatest descriptive writers of her time. At the start of her tenth decade and in her own words “having at the moment nothing much else to write”, she began keeping a diary of her thoughts—a collection of pieces written by Jan over the course of 2017 and early 2018 and culminating in this extraordinary book.
Chronicled across 188 days, she shares her musings on the world and her place in it, alongside the day to day life in her beloved Wales. No topic is off limits and her observations range from funny to blunt, via kind and touching, accompanied by laugh-out-loud commentary that has you either nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in wonder and sometimes shock: The “Day 4” opening sentence reads: “In the middle of the night I awoke with the need to have a shit,” which is not surpassed by “Day 25”: “I read somewhere the other day about a man who fell in love with a sheep”, or “Day 87: “That’s odd. I don’t seem to have thought anything today. It does happen.”
The challenges of aging feature heavily in her thoughts as does her much-loved Wales, encompassing everything in between: cats, computers, cars, poetry, the British Empire and the spectre of Brexit, music and melody, exercise, eating, her dear partner Elizabeth, weather, surveys and, of course, books—both her own and others’. All of these themes are interspersed with the occasional poem, rhyme or a ditty.
A compulsive and enjoyable read that’ll keep you on your toes as you never know what to expect on the next page.
On day 85, Jan states “I am stunned, simply stunned, by the amount of stuff that is packed inside my perfectly ordinary brain.” Well Jan, so are we.
Jan Morris was born in 1926 to a Welsh father and an English mother. She lives now with her partner Elizabeth Morris in the top left-hand corner of Wales, between the mountains and the sea. Her books include Coronation Everest, Venice, The Pax Britannica Trilogy (Heaven’s Command, Pax Britannica and Farewell the Trumpets) and Conundrum. She is also the author of six books about cities and countries, two autobiographical books, several volumes of collected travel essays and the unclassifiable Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A Writer’s World, a collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, was published in 2003, and Hav, her only novel, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006. In 2018, she was awarded the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.