Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Did You Think Of Red Leather Diary?

I finished The Red Leather Diary last night.  I found myself thinking a lot about Florence after I put the book down.  Why?  I think because she made me think about myself, in the future, as --God willing--an elderly woman.  When I look back on my life, what will I think?  Will I be filled with regret, or will I be one of those amazing senior citizens who still get up every morning and keep a full and active life?  Will I be jumping out of a plane at 80, running (very slowly) a half marathon, or dancing in a Zumba class?  

As I was reading this book, I must admit Florence got on my nerves a bit.  She seemed very "adult" for a young teen, and rather snotty at times.  I cannot imagine living in the world she occupied--it had to be so vibrant and alive!  Knowing what would come in a few short years--a world torn apart by war, made reading this poignant for me.  This world was lost, so for Florence to have kept a diary for just a few short years gave us a window into a time when it seemed the world was full of fresh new ideas, chock full of art and culture, and women were realizing they had more to give than being a wife and mother and stifling their artistic talents and desires for careers outside the home.

I am glad the book did not simply end with the diary, that I got see what Florence did after she wrote her last entry.  I'm thrilled she got to Europe--that trip sounded like a heck of a good time!  And Nat--what a handsome guy--holy cow!  I think every man she met was swoon worthy.  They all looked so elegant.

Florence as a 90 year old was a delight.  I agree with Lily, that she was still the young girl from the diary.  Florence may have felt she lost that adventurous young girl, but I think she was still there.  And her daughters and grandchildren were perfect examples of her sense of adventure and artistic flair reaching their full potential.  I looked to see if Florence was still alive today, and I could not find anything that indicated her death, so I can only assume she's closing in on 100 years.  What a time span--so many things she has witnessed.

Does this make you want to begin a journal of your own?  Have you rediscovered an old diary from your younger years?  I must confess I do not have a diary from my childhood.  I think of Oprah, who has kept a journal since her teen years, and still, to this day, keeps a journal.  She has said she looks at some from her 20's and laughs at her drama.  I am kind of envious that she still has contact with that version of herself.  I can't remember what I was thinking about 5 years ago, much less 20!  So I may start a journal this year, the year I turn 45.  I say better late than never.

I hope you enjoyed this book.  If Florence was too much for you, well, I hope you enjoyed traveling back to 1930's New York, and it has given you some thought about your life--what you've done, where you are headed, and if you are living the life you dreamed about in your younger years.

Will you start your own red leather diary?


Anonymous said...

I am ashamed to admit that life has gotten busy and I am only halfway through the book but I'm dedicated to finishing it. I guess I'm a bit shocked so far. I am taken back by the open sexuality and the male and female lovers. My grandmother was born in '29 and is a strict, stern, no sex before marriage kind of gal. I just never thought about young girls getting down like that. Nat is so handsome in the pictures and I am a bit upset that I got this book on my Nook because the pictures aren't as clear. :(

I am rushing off to Zumba but will for sure be writing a bit more later. I just wanted to say that so far I am finding her a bit annoying and pretentious but also intriguing. I am happy that women her age, that long ago, were so strong and independent. Kudos to her.

I have kept a journal since the age of 11 and still do. I can still look back on all those times and LOVE that fact. I'd be horrified if they found the light of day but so glad that I have them all the same.

Thanks for posting the questions and your thoughts. I will have something more substantial when I finish up! :)

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh Ms. Caboo.....I have the book and I am ashamed to admit I have not even begun to read it. At present we are doing a lot of traveling...but I do intend to get it read. Your description does make it sound delightful....especially since I am "a woman of a certain" age and still finding adventures in life.


ms. caboo said...

Jewels and Jo:

It's okay if you didn't finish the book! It's the kind of book that you can pick up and set down again without losing the thread of the story. For me, thinking about it after I finished it is what made me enjoy it. Jewels, I do agree that I was also a bit shocked at the sex talk. I guess we always think the previous generations never did anything before marriage :)

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Anonymous said...

Okay. I finally finished. I have a couple last thoughts.

1. I LOVE that they followed up with Florence after the diary ended and not just through her European travels but through to her current place. I also love the updates on the other people mentioned in the book and what happened to made it all so much more real.

2. Florence annoys the piss outta me. I can't help it. She seems like one of those overly smart people that just alienate others with their personality. I wanted to like her but I found it hard to relate to somebody like her.

3. I am shocked, truly, by the amount of romances taking place, the open talk about same sex relationships, and the "making out" and "making love" that takes place. Holy Moly!

4. That being said I really enjoyed the book still. It was an interesting look at the era and I enjoyed that insight even if I didn't enjoy the voice it was told in.

5. Fate is a wonderful thing. Just imagine the stars that had to line up to have this book come to light. Amazing.

Great pick! Can't wait for The Great House!

My Grama's Soul said...

Hello Ms. Caboo....I haven't finished about half done. I've got to tell you....I love this book. She was a strong, vibrant woman who did not suffer fools lightly. She was headstrong, with a mind of her own...I think that particular era did produce some of the most amazing women of their time. I do agree with Jewels that she did seem very mature for her age. Why at l4 she looked to be in her 20's....perhaps it was because her mother was a dress maker and she lead such a life of affluence.

Loved your choice.