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'Viper wit from the gardener, writer and Knight of exquisite taste' DAILY TELEGRAPH
'Funny, barbed and moving ... magnificently readable' THE TIMES
Scenes and Apparitions covers a period of Roy Strong's life from 1988 to 2003. A sequel to Splendours and Miseries, it is an unmissable record of how a citizen at the close of the second Elizabethan age observed and chronicled his own world at the turn of the century. Although it is not without tragedy - the murder of his friend Gianni Versace, and the death of his beloved wife Julia Trevelyan Oman - there is plenty to enjoy from his descriptions of Elton John's fiftieth birthday party, to a concert for the Queen Mother, and his portraits of marriage, friendship, work and his celebrated garden, The Laskett.
Sir Roy Strong CH, historian, diarist and gardener, was Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum. He is the author of some forty books on a wide variety of subjects.
He has recently reissued two volumes of his diaries: SPLENDOURS AND MISERIES and SCENES AND APPARITiONS.
His acclaimed THE STORY OF BRITAIN was updated and reissused in 2018.
Funny, barbed and moving, Roy Strong's diaries are a treasure ... magnificently readable ... This volume of Strong's diaries is chiefly notable as an unflinchingly honest appraisal of the change and decay its author sees all around him. We knew Strong had a lacerating wit and an elegant pen; here we see the depth of his humanity as he stares into the abyss of mortality
THE TIMES - Richard Morrison
Although it encompasses tragedy - the murder of his friend Gianni Versace - and concludes in grief, with the death from cancer of his wife, Julia Trevelyan Oman, it is, in essence, a portrait of emotional and creative fulfilment, in marriage, friendships, work and, in particular, the celebrated garden that he and his wife created at their Herefordshire home, The Laskett. There are some splendid set-piece descriptions of occasions ranging from Elton John's 50th birthday party ('like an overgrown schoolboy dressed as Prince Charming at the ball') to a concert for the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace ('any sense of style and much else seems to have left the place'). There is plenty of comedy, often at Sir Roy's expense ... Sometimes the array of names is dizzying ... the lack of notes keeps the book buoyant and easy to read ... I fervently hope that he doesn't keep us waiting another 20 years for the next instalment
COUNTRY LIFE - Michael Hall
Viper wit from the gardener, writer and Knight of exquisite taste
Everyone loves a good gossip, especially when it involves the rich and powerful, which is why Roy Strong's second volume of diaries, Scenes and Apparitions, covering the period from 1988 to 2003 is such a delight. The former director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum was still very much part of the establishment at this time, yet detached enough from it to offer acidic and often heartfelt observations on its well-upholstered inhabitants
When it comes to viperish high society gossip, Roy Strong is in a class of his own, and the 25 years of his diaries collected here should keep any armchair socialite quiet throughout the festive season
DAILY MAIL - John Preston
Articulate, erudite and amusing reflections from a very agreeable national treasure
His diaries are politely savage, stinging as he goes ... It reads as a Who's Who of royalty, grandees in country houses, politicians (mostly despised, particularly New Labour he is revolted by Tony Blair), great gardeners and the media ... His socially acute and opinionated observations are seasoned by glimpses into some surviving historic rituals as both observer and participant ... He works incredibly hard as a man of letters, earning his living as an author, lecturer, broadcaster, curator and consultant, enormously prolific and productive... His ability to take offence is prodigious. We are informatively entertained ... and informed by character analyses of the great and the good from courtiers to politicians to the cultural world
ART NEWSPAPER - Marina Vaizey
This second instalment of diaries from the historian, gardener and incorrigible gossip covers the years from 1988 to 2003, when Sir Roy abandoned public life only to reinvent himself as a broadcaster
and popular historian. The diaries are full of waspish observations and pithy nonsequiteurs; the 'Pinter
weekend' alone is a hoot