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Charles Ritchie.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1983.
175pp, cloth, $17.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9782-7.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

This title is the fourth in a series that includes The Siren Years, An Appetite for Life, and Diplomatic Passport, all witty and informative diaries pertaining to the author's diplomatic postings abroad. Charles Ritchie was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia; he discovered his aptitude for diary writing at a very early age and has pursued this hobby ever since. In Storm Signals, Ritchie, who is now retired, offers glimpses of life in his last two major postings as Canadian ambassador to the Washington of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and as Canadian High Commissioner to London. He often avails himself of the diarist's prerogative of highlighting amusing, unimportant detail while minimizing major events. With a dry sense of humour, he describes his encounters with all sorts of people in high places, often interspersing the narrative with amusing anecdotes. The formal and the informal life intermingle: the antics of his little dog, Popski, often bring a light note and a sense of homely relief to more formal descriptions. Many are the trappings that go with a diplomat's life: large, sumptuous homes, endless dinner and cocktail parties, servants, huge cars, and butlers. "I could write a book about 'Butlers I have Known,'" states Ritchie, "In their lofty idea of their own position and their devotion to protocol, in the gravity of their public facade, they much resemble certain ambassadors.. ."

This attractively covered book presents itself well, with a picture of Ritchie and J.F. Kennedy on the jacket. A preface, a short epilogue, and a very useful index complement the diary. Ritchie excels in this genre: his books have gained for him a prominent place in Canadian literature.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S. S., Elliot Lake, ON.
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