Can you imagine being new to New York City, starting a new career as a journalist and stumbling upon a dumpster full to the brim with old steamer trunks? This is a true story and it is what happened to Lily Koppel in 2003. She made an amazing discovery, an old and cracked red leather diary complete with a broken latch. Inside, she reads the diary of Florence Wolfson, a 14 year old girl when she started the diary in 1929 after she received it as a present. She continued to write in the diary through to 1934 when she turned 19. The diary is a window into the life and mind of a young girl as she grows and matures. Florence writes brief diary entries about theater experiences, literature, shopping and fashion,friendships, family and even her own sexual explorations. Lily became fascinated with the diary and set on a path to find out as much as she could about Florence and was able to locate Florence with much perseverance and the assistance of an investigator.
Ms. Koppel translated the snippets and entries from Florence's diary into a novelistic type story that turns the diary and back story into a wonderful read. I have a special fondness for books related to diaries and letters. I find that diaries and letters take you to the true inner core of a person and you can get a true picture of who they are as a reader. It may be because diaries and letters are usually meant for private inner thoughts and not for mass appeal. There is a genuineness in these types of books that I am drawn to. The Red Leather Diary definitely takes you into the private inner thoughts of Florence, sometimes a bit more than you may want to know. I found Florence to be a woman ahead of her times in many ways and I was thrilled to read that Lily found her and she was reunited with the girl of her youth from the diary. It was also interesting to read about Florence's life after the diary ended and her life now. I believe that the author did a wonderful job bringing to light the pages of Florence's diary and it is a story that I will not forget.
The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal by Lily Koppel