Not too long ago someone asked if I would be reading any fictional diaries as part of my diary-reading project (and I suspect this is going to be an ongoing all-year-long sort of project . . . something I plan on taking my time with and enjoying). I hadn't discounted the possibility of reading fictional diaries but I hadn't set any aside or come up with a list either. Since I am reading Michelle Cooper's A Brief History of Montmaray at the moment, and it is written in diary format I started thinking about other books written in a diary or journal format.
I had expected to come up with a long list of titles, but I found a little difficult. I can think of many books written in an epistolary format (letters rather than diary entries), but my list is just at thirteen for fictional diaries.
Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright -- I read this in pre- or early blogging days and don't think I ever wrote a proper post about it, but I really loved this book, which won the Giller Prize in 2001. It's set in Depression Era Ontario about two sisters--one, a schoolteacher, who remains at home while the other goes to seek fame and fortune in NYC. It's told through a combination of letters and journal entries.
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields -- A book I've owned for ages and have not yet read. It won the Pulitzer in 1995. It's a fictionalized account of an ordinary, married middle class woman.
Diary of an Ordinary Woman by Margaret Forster -- Yet another account of a woman's life told by way of diary entries and one I did read and recall enjoying, though at the time felt somewhat tepid about (obviously I was left with a better impression than I thought at the time). It covers the years from the First World War almost until the end of the century.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding -- Read this one years ago, so long now that I have a firmer impression in my mind of the movie with Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth. The mother of chick lit fiction aside, it seems I enjoyed this one immensely. I've thought often of reading Fielding's other book, which has been called a 'romp' of a story, but just haven't gotten around to it.
The Prestige by Christopher Priest -- I saw the movie, and then bought the book. Probably enough time has now passed that I can read it without the story being too firmly set in my mind. Set in Victorian England it's the story of two stage magician's who are rivals.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous -- How long has this book been around? I should have read it as a young adult never seemed to get around to it. It's a diary of a young girl from a troubled home who is addicted to LSD.
Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield -- A totally delightful read and one of the first books that came to mind when contemplating my list. I wrote about it here in case you need an introduction to the book. Delafield wrote a number of Provincial Lady books and I should really reread this one and then add a few of her other books to my reading pile this year. The story is set in a typical English village ca. 1930 about a typical middle class family.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos -- I've wanted to read this one for ages, too. This is the story of Lorelei Lee, a 1920s flapper with a taste for the finer things in life.
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin -- This is a retelling of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story as told from the perspective of the maid, Mary Reilly.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith -- This is one of my favorite books--a coming of age tale and a love
story set in a crumbling castle where a family lives in genteel poverty.
The Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper -- I'm cheating a bit by adding this to my list when I mentioned it up above, but it seems like a good idea to pair it with the Smith novel since that is where the inspiration for it comes.
Edith's Diary by Patricia Highsmith -- I don't remember where I read about this--maybe just browsing since I've enjoyed Highsmith's work in the past. It's about a woman on the verge of madness who invents a life for herself as her own is so drab an unhappy.
Dracula by Bram Stoker -- Another book I read several years ago and happen to be listening to on audio at the moment. It is a classic Victorian story that's so much more than just a vampire tale. The audio is wonderful by the way. It begins with Jonathan Harker's journal entries as he travels to and meets Count Dracula.
Please feel free to add to my list, as I am sure I've left out some very good books; and as I am hoping to read a few fictional diaries I'm hoping to get more suggestions to choose from.