Charles Ritchie’s first volume of diaries, The Siren Years, created a sensation when it was published in 1974. Besides winning the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction, it was hailed by reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic. An Appetite for Life, his second volume, first published in 1977, deals with his youth in Halifax and his career at Oxford – the years when Charles Ritchie turned from a callow, blundering youth into a callow, blundering young man.
As these diaries show, Charles Ritchie had a sharp eye, a keen ear, a highly developed sense of the absurd, and – despite his unhappy knack of landing ?at on his face – a thorough “appetite for life.”
This is not only a hilariously funny book, but it presents a vivid picture of two worlds – Halifax and Oxford in the mid-twenties – that are now long gone. It also introduces us to an astonishing range of characters, but the most astonishing of all is the young Charles Ritchie himself.
About Charles Ritchie
One of Canada’s most distinguished diplomats, Charles Ritchie (1906–1995) had a brilliant career in Canada’s diplomatic corps, serving as Canada’s ambassador to Bonn, West Germany; as Canadian Permanent Representative to the United Nations; as ambassador to the United States during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson; and as High Commissioner to London.
“The lens of Ritchie’s sensibility, in all his writing, is itself so peculiarly and sharply focussed, his use of language so beautiful and so lucid, that the diaries and memoirs reshape and reorder experience and as a result transform into literature the story of his own life.”
— Jane Urquhart, Brick magazine
“We can only be left with the conclusion that, in Ritchie, Canada has found its very own Pepys.”
“He challenges comparison with the best diarists in the language. Indeed I can think of none who excel him in grace of language and in fecundity of wit.”