Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Review: The Red Leather Diary

Last Thursday night Reading Under the Influence was held at Lily's Restaurant in Midtown in the swanky Roger Smith Hotel. Amidst the starring eyes of the hotel's personalities painted upon the walls, the dim candlelight room welcomed us and author Lily Koppel to travel back to New York glamour, during the peak of its roaring glory to the depths of the Great Depression.

Articulate and bursting at the seams with details of the fascinating life of Florence Wolfson, Koppel took us on a journey from a Riverside Drive dumpster back in time to Florence's 14th birthday, to questions about her sexuality, to her travels alone through Europe. Florence's independence and strength resounded through Koppel's words as though it were her own story.

The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life through the Pages of a Lost Journal is the serendipitous story of a young author who happens across a diary buried in a trunk along with flapper dresses, to do lists of women from the early 20th century, and beaded purses and coats from around the Prohibition. To some these artifacts are old news, buried under generations of technological advancements and cultural revolutions. To other's these trunks embody a forgotten history complete with a fascinating and nostalgic story. A story they've been looking for to release themselves from the fast paced routines of everyday life. Thankfully, this is how Koppel saw this discovery and how she used this opportunity to change her and Florence's lives forever.

There is much to take away from this superbly written book, yet there is one major theme that is most important. Everyone has a story. Everyone's story is a beautiful journey through life. No one leads an ordinary life, as life in its self is far from ordinary.

1 comment:

Lora Mitchell said...

Jessica: As an avid reader, how in the devil did I miss not reading "Red Leather Diary" even though I did read a blip in the NYTimes Book Review and meant to reserve it at the library. After reading your review, I will surely read it. Lora