Friday, April 10, 2009
The Red Leather Diary
Just finished a book I could not put down, "The Red Leather Diary". Read it in three days which, given my work schedule and my passion for blogging and reading the blogs of others, is quite a feat.
The book chronicles the true story of an aspiring twenty something newspaper journalist who moves to NYC, takes a job with the NY Times and apartment-shares with an older woman in an old brownstone on Riverside Drive. One afternoon, the writer arrives at the brownstone to find a large dumpster filled with old steamer trunks and vintage items. Intrigued, she climbs into the dumpster and begins to search through the antique treasures left behind long ago, now headed for the garbage pile. Her search leads her to a crumbling red leather bound diary with a lock. The story-within-a-story is about the author of the diary: a pert, privileged, fourteen year old Jewish girl in 1929. It captures Manhattan in the twenties and early thirties...the clubs, the theatre, the educated, the artistic, bohemian and cafe society, the ex-pats and the avant garde.
Florence Howitt, the diarist, chronicles five formative years of her life between the ages of 14 & 19 through five unbelievably rich tumultuous years in New York City and Europe, 1929-1934. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in the Jazz Age.
For an in-depth overview of the book by chicagotribune.com, go here. For a wonderful book web site, full color photos & interviews & more, go here.