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Stories told in diary form, like epistolic novels, are first person narratives which offer a sense of unmediated sincerity and unfolding immediacy, often coupled with introspective self-reflection. For the reader, they offer a voyeuristic frisson.
· Chronicling an optimistic yet doomed quest for self-improvement, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding narrates Bridget’s attempts to lose weight, give up smoking, drink less, and form a functional relationship with a responsible adult.
· Offering a window into the inner life of an adolescent boy, Sue Townsend’s book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ spawned a radio serial, a television series, a stage production and a musical.
· An account of the very early days of Microsoft, Microserfs by Douglas Copland describes the feudal system under which peasant-genius coders operate, with All Mighty Bill in charge.
· The first and last of the many nested stories which makes up David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas takes the form of the journal of Adam Ewing, a lawyer from San Francisco who finds himself in the Chatham Islands during the mid-19th century.
· A Journal of the Plague Year: Being Observations or Memorials, Of the most Remarkable Occurrences, As well Publick as Private, which happened in London During the last Great Visitation In 1665 is written by Daniel Defoe, who was five during the Great Plague of London, and who seems to have based his book on the diaries of his uncle; though initially read as non-fiction, its intensity of focus on the character of the narrator classifies it as a novel rather than a history.
· The Vampire Diaries is a YA series by L J Smith (and various ghost writers) – though only partly in diary form – centring on the love triangle between high-school student Elena Gilbert and two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore.
· The journal of an elderly and dying man, intended to be left as a legacy to be read by his young son, is a mixture of advice, memories and ruminations in Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005.
· After his death, and contrary to his instructions, the diaries of Harrison William Shepherd form the text of Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Lacuna, telling the story of his life in Mexico, and his friendship with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
· Intended as a record of normal life for her incapacitated husband, comatose after a suicide attempt, the Diary of Misty Wilmot becomes increasingly complicated as it dredges up long-repressed feelings in the novel by Chuck Palahniuk.