'Sometimes I have the feeling I'm going to turn out to be something queer when I grow up. Mathilda is so ordinary, she makes me feel special. I am not like her. I want to be different, I don't know how. Mathilda hates to be different. I am different already.' Millicent King, 26 November 1914
'There was nothing ordinary about this woman. Indeed, I now wonder if there is any such thing as an ordinary life at all.'
Margaret Forster, Introduction to Diary of an Ordinary Woman
Millicent King is an 'ordinary' woman living through extraordinary times in this brilliantly conceived piece of fictional memoir writing. Diary of an Ordinary Woman is the edited diary of fictional woman Millicent King (1901-1995). From the age of 13, on the eve of the Great War, Millicent King keeps her journals in a series of exercise books. The diary records the dramas of everyday life in an ordinary English family touched by war, tragedy and money troubles in the early decades of the century. With vividness, she records her brother's injury, her father's death from pneumonia, the family's bankruptcy, giving up college to take a soul-destroying job as a shop assistant. Millicent struggles to become a teacher, but wants more out of life. From Bohemian literary London to Rome in the twenties, her story moves on to social work, the General Strike, the Depression Era of the 1930's and the build-up to the Second World-War in which she drives ambulances through the bombed streets of London. This is followed by her experience of the Swinging Sixties and Maggie Thatcher's Britain. She has proposals of marriage and secret lovers, ambition and optimism, but her life is turned upside down by wartime deaths. Here is twentieth-century woman in close-up coping with the tragedies and upheavals of women's lives. Her ordinary life proves unexpectedly absorbing and, at times, extremely moving showing that, above all, the most ordinary lives are often extraordinary