The Diary
Eileen Goudge
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Buy *The Diary* by Eileen Goudge online

The Diary
Eileen Goudge
Vanguard Press
224 pages
April 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Carolyn LeComte's take on The Diary.

Sisters Emily and Sarah are completing the heartbreaking task of emptying out their dying mother's home when they come across an old diary at the bottom of a long-forgotten box in the attic of the house they grew up in. As they crack it open, they recognize their mother's handwriting and are astonished by the dates the diary covers: June to November 1951, just prior to their parents' wedding date that December.

The women are shocked to realize that the diary reveals their mother Elizabeth's love for another man. She was all set to marry her high school sweetheart, Bob, when a young man she had known since she was five years old came back to town. A.J. is a cartoon artist at the county fair and certainly not the type of boy of whom Elizabeth's mother would approve. He has no steady job, his parents died when he was nine, and he has been abused by the relatives who raised him. He has had a hard life. Elizabeth falls for him practically on sight.

A.J. and Elizabeth begin to sneak some time together, carefully avoiding prying small-town eyes. When a fire erupts near their rendezvous spot, A.J. doesn't hesitate to jump in to help fight the blaze. His quick presence on the scene throws suspicion on him, and he is arrested for the crime. Elizabeth has no choice: she admits to Bob that she has been seeing A.J. then goes to the police to provides him the alibi that he needs to prove his innocence.

Emily and Sarah are shocked to their cores as they read the events in the diary. Did they never really know their parents? They seemed so happy together, so completely content. It's overwhelming to discover this hidden past that the sisters had no idea existed. What happened to A.J.? If Elizabeth loved him enough to ruin her reputation for his sake, why didn't they get married? How could their father have forgiven her so completely as to never once hint at what had happened? They can't ask their mother - she is unconscious and gravely ill. They resign themselves to not knowing, to always wondering what happened. Then an unexpected event reveals something wonderful.

I read this joyful novel in one sitting, like Emily and Sarah did the diary, because I just had to find out what happened. The Diary is an intensely satisfying combination of tender romance and complex emotional drama. This book is an eye-opening reminder of the stories and history contained in each twinkling older eye, lest we forget the valuable stories, big and small, that our elders have to pass on.

A fantastic read and highly recommended.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Carey Anderson, 2009

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