Eileen Goudge's novel, The Diary, is deceptive. It seems to be a very simple story, and suddenly the lead character, and the story, slaps the reader alongside the head.
The Diary opens with two grown daughters, Sarah and Emily, going through their mother's possessions, since she's in a nursing home following a stroke. They are surprised to find a diary, written before their mother, Elizabeth, married their father, Bob Marshall. But, they're shocked to find their mother wasn't so sure about her love for Bob, even though they had been dating for years. Just at the time their mother should have been announcing her engagement, she ran into an old schoolmate, AJ, at the fair. And, suddenly, the proper daughter of a respected mother, was torn between respectable Bob and AJ, the bad boy who had spent time in reform school.
Although the story reads like an old-fashioned book, set in 1951, the two sisters and readers might be a little surprised at Elizabeth's actions. And, Emily realizes that children never really know their parents. "All these years, I never thought of them as being anything other than our parents. But they had lives of their own apart from us."
Once again, Eileen Goudge has taken a traditional woman's novel, a love story, and turned it on its ear. Anytime I call my mother and say, you would like this book, it comes recommended. The Diary, a deceptive little book, was a pleasant surprise.
Eileen Goudge has two websites to go with this book. One is her website at www.eileengoudge.com. The other directly relates to this book. It's www.betsdiary.com
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The Diary by Eileen Goudge. Vanguard Press, ©2009. ISBN 9781593155438 (hardcover), 224p.