Marsha's Reviews > The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal

The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel
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's review
Apr 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: journal-epistolary, non-fiction, history, owned-books
Read in October, 2010

Journalist Lily Koppel found a fraying red leather diary in a steamer trunk bound for the dumpster. In it, she read the five-year chronicle of the life of a young woman coming of age in the 1920s. Intrigued by the beauty and richness of this girl’s inner life, especially the glimpses into the glittering glory of New York during the Roaring 20s, Lily Koppel set out to find Florence Wolfson.

The 90-year-old woman was delighted at getting her hands on her old diary, which she’d long forgotten, as well as the look into the life of the adolescent she’d once been. This is a fantastic book, a tribute both to its tireless journalist and the extraordinary woman who wrote in that diary over half a century ago. Through her words, the reader comes to know the glorious Florence, an unabashed lover of men and women, a traveler, writer, painter, socialite, fearless journalist of her school paper and holder of her own literary circle. Florence rode horseback, played tennis, slept with a counterfeit count and loved with the abandon one finds only in the young.

We also get a look into a bygone New York, brimming with the vitality and recklessness of the Roaring 20s. The girl and the era come alive in this novel, making this one of the best reads I’ve ever had.

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