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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Born in Chicago in 1897, 'Chips' Channon settled in England after the Great War, married into the immensely wealthy Guinness family and served as Conservative MP for Southend-on-Sea from 1935 until his death in 1958. His career was unremarkable. His diaries are quite the opposite. Elegant, gossipy and bitchy by turns, they are the unfettered observations of a man who went everywhere and who knew everybody. Whether describing the antics of London society in the interwar years, or the growing scandal surrounding his close friends Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson during the abdication crisis, or the mood in the House of Commons in the lead-up to the Munich crisis, his sense of drama and his eye for the telling detail are unmatched. These are diaries that bring a whole epoch vividly to life.

A heavily abridged and censored edition of the diaries was published in 1967. Only now, 60 years after Chips' death, can the text be shared in all its glory.

©2021 Chips Channon (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries (Volume 1)

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Wholly inappropriate choice of reader

These diaries fizz with humour, insight, malice, and charm, and depict a social elite in which accent and the inflection of language were intimately bound up with its sense of identity and the stratagems it employed to keep outsiders at bay. Poor Tom Ward has a voice that is so dull, joyless, and pedestrian that he sounds like a slightly concussed Rugby prop forward; and his curiously hybrid accent - part mid-Atlantic, part Middle England, with the occasional weird dash of Scots - is about as unsuited to the presentation of the fastidiously self-invented-patrician Channon as can be imagined. Ward presents these diaries as though he were reading a stock-exchange report. My recommendation is to stick to the printed version, and hope that a different reader is employed for Volumes II and III.

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I stuck with it and really liked it

The narration seemed a little odd at first and not very relaxing. However the content is so revealing and intimate that it is a worthy listen overall. This is an inside story of between the wars aristocracy that lifts the lid on the superficial others. Chips’ contemporaneous comments are thought provoking and better than hindsight. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the period covered. Where else will you find pen portraits of so many people of the times? Go for it!
Kenneth.

2 people found this helpful