Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Red Leather Diary

Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal

Lily Koppel
Harper Collins 2008

In 2003, Lily Koppel discovered Florence Wolfson’s diary in a Manhattan dumpster. She located Florence in Florida and surprised her with this artifact from her past. Lily said, “I have some old things belonging to you that I picked up at 98 Riverside Drive, and I thought you might want them.”

As a teenager, Florence had kept the diary from 1929 to 1934. Lily wrote a piece for The New York Times based on this 72-year-old relic, provoking enough interest to be turned into a book. Florence writes in a forward to the book, “It has added zest to my life and brought back some of the passion of my youth and made me feel more alive than I have in years.”

Because this was written in a novelistic way, I found it hard to decide if it was fact or fiction. Either way, it is a fascinating re-creation of the romance and glitter, sophistication and promise, of 1930s New York. She was obsessed with the state of her soul and her appearance, and I probably wouldn’t have liked Florence at all.

In June 2008, one reviewer said that she had seen them on the Today show. Maybe it’s true, maybe not, nevertheless, a good read and the black-and-white photos add lots of interest.

Florence as a sixteen-year-old college sophomore in May 1931


Nan said...

I'm assuming the original writer had to approve? Or because it was 'found' had Florence lost any claim to it? Have you read anything that says how true or untrue it is?

Janice said...

I haven't found anything more to read about how true or untrue, although I've googled and followed up. There's just a feeling that it's a hoax.

Let me know if you find anything. Simon wrote a review and seemed not to doubt its truth

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Leather Diary