Any of you who have hung around here for even a short while will know that I’m fascinated with the intimacies of other people’s diaries. Therefore I am sure you’ll understand how excited I was to discover another writer who has published their teenage diaries!
This time we’re concerned with growing up gay, and coming to terms with sexual identity, as the eighties turned into the nineties. Natasha Holme has published three books which essentially cover 1988/1989 (although this does include some briefer entries from 1983-1987), 1989/1990 and 1990/1991. I bought all three volumes without hesitation (well, after a quick read of the reviews so I was sure they were what I hoped). Here’s what I wrote about volume one on Amazon….
I was overjoyed when I found this whilst scrolling through the returns from an Amazon search for “diaries” in books. A quick look at the reviews confirmed my hopes – these are the genuine diaries kept by a teenage lesbian in the eighties!
The book takes us on a journey through Natasha’s O-Level results, 6th Form and finally her reluctant first year at University. The earlier entries are quite sporadic and brief, jumping days at a time, but by the end we get to hear what Natasha was up to most days.
I’m assuming the reason for this is that the entries are, in the main, relevant only to her on-going and developing crushes on friends and teachers. The central focus of her attention/obsession is her French teacher the peerless Miss Williams. Initially Natasha tries to manipulate the situation just so she will be taught by Miss Williams again, but by the time Natasha is at University (the same one Miss Williams went to of course) things take a quite different turn. What Natasha does can be quite shocking and potentially disturbing, particularly if you’re Miss Williams, but it’s also in turns harmless and highly amusing!
There are entries that genuinely made me laugh out loud (it was worth the price just for December 3rd, 1988 alone!!) and others that made me sigh and feel sad. Yet from reading the pages of her diary I came to love Natasha for her bravery, her attitude, her honesty, her wit and her silliness.
My only criticism is that there wasn’t more! I wanted the unedited version, particularly of the years 1983 – 1986, but I’m greedy like that! At least I’ve got the next two books to look forward to!
I was also reminded of Rhona Cameron and her book 1979 and wonder if that in some way inspired Natasha? Either way, they’re brilliant. I’m on to the second book now, can’t put it down but don’t want it to end either!