Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Red Leather Diary, by Lily Koppel

Book 35

I found The Red Leather Diary the last time Borders was clearing out stores.

Lily Koppel rescued an old diary, and some other stuff, from a dumpster when her building in Manhattan cleared out their old storage spaces.  It was the five-year diary completed by a teenaged girl in the 1930s.

Florence was the daughter of Jewish immigrants - a doctor and a dressmaker - and led a rather privileged life.  She was also really bright, in the days when skipping grades wasn't such a big deal.  At age 21 she had a Master's degree from Columbia and all her mother wanted to know was when she was going to get married.  And she did a whole lot of exploring her sexuality.

So Lily tracks Florence down.  Alive and well at age 90+ and living in Florida.  They become friends, Lily gets the rest of her post-diary story and Florence determines that the girl that she was would be incredibly disappointed in the woman she became.  As if that doesn't happen to us all.

New York was very vivid here, almost like a different character.  Koppel notes that her New York is very different from Florence's.  And that Florence's is way cooler.  I thought of Miss Busy while reading this, as she likes a good hometown history.

I enjoyed this book.

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