Friday, April 11, 2008

The Red Leather Diary

The Red Leather Diary
Koppel, Lily

I loved this book. In 2003 Lily Koppel, a staff writer for the New York Times, walks out the front door of her apartment building and notices a large dumpster on the street by the front door. It is filled with old steamer trunks and valises (suitcases to the rest of us) that have been brought up from the basement storage room. The building owners were in the process of cleaning out the storage room and these trunks and valises, many very old, covered with labels from faraway places, were on their way to their final resting place....a local landfill (even as I write that phrase I shudder at the waste and loss). Instead of hurrying on to her job (she was already a tad late) Lily pulls herself up into the grimy dumpster and starts to open up trunks. The flotsam and jetsam of peoples lives come spilling out. A woman's nightgown. Sheer lace curtains. Old sepia toned photos. A man's charcoal gray dress coat with a velvet collar. So many things. She takes a few things, an old typewriter, a flapper dress from the 20's, a few other things. But, the item that changes her life isn't even something that she found. As she was taking her "haul" back up to her apartment the doorman mentions a diary that was found. They divert to the basement where he has stashed the diary in his locker. Lily finds in her hands the worn leather diary of Florence Wolfson and so the story begins. Ms. Koppel interweaves entries from the diary with the fleshed out story that she recieved from the diary's author, whom she tracked down in 2006. I couldn't put this book down.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the perfect plane-ride read. (You don't waste any time! None of the area libraries even have it yet.)


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