Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

The Red Leather Diary+


This is a true story and I Quote from the link to the book,

Rescued from a Dumpster on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a discarded diary brings to life the glamorous, forgotten world of an extraordinary young woman.

For more than half a century, the red leather diary lay silent, languishing inside a steamer trunk, its worn cover crumbling into little flakes. When a cleaning sweep of a New York City apartment building brings this lost treasure to light, both the diary and its owner are given a second life.

Recovered by Lily Koppel, a young writer working at the New York Times, the journal paints a vivid picture of 1930s New York—horseback riding in Central Park, summer excursions to the Catskills, and an obsession with a famous avant-garde actress. From 1929 to 1934, not a single day’s entry is skipped.

Opening the tarnished brass lock, Koppel embarks on a journey into the past, traveling to a New York in which women of privilege meet for tea at Schrafft’s, dance at the Hotel Pennsylvania, and toast the night at El Morocco. As she turns the diary’s brittle pages, Koppel is captivated by the headstrong young woman whose intimate thoughts and emotions fill the pale blue lines. Who was this lovely ingénue who adored the works of Baudelaire and Jane Austen, who was sexually curious beyond her years, who traveled to Rome, Paris, and London?

Compelled by the hopes and heartaches captured in the pages, Koppel sets out to find the diary’s owner, her only clue the inscription on the frontispiece—”This book belongs to . . . Florence Wolfson.” A chance phone call from a private investigator leads Koppel to Florence, a ninety-year-old woman living with her husband of sixty-seven years. Reunited with her diary, Florence ventures back to the girl she once was, rediscovering a lost self that burned with artistic fervor.

Joining intimate interviews with original diary entries, Koppel reveals the world of a New York teenager obsessed with the state of her soul and her appearance, and muses on the serendipitous chain of events that returned the lost journal to its owner. Evocative and entrancing, The Red Leather Diary re-creates the romance and glitter, sophistication and promise, of 1930s New York, bringing to life the true story of a precocious young woman who dared to follow her dreams.”

Book link

Related NYT article (Registration required]

Watch the New York Times multi-media presentation here because it is fantastic!!!



March 19, 2008 - Posted by | Art, books, God in our life, life, New York City, news, women, writing


  1. Good story and good multimedia presentation, you are right.
    Funny somehow… about 25 years ago I wrote an illustrated story for adults and children, and i lost it then, moving from one city to another and to another country. Some weeks ago a links was sent to me and the story, with the pictures, appeared suddenly ion my screen. It was a wonderful, very emotional moment. In about one week I will have in my possession the 33 original illustrations, and this will be a great moment too!
    I have still lost about 2 dozens of big handwritten diaries and dream books though, all written between the years 1980 and 1990 if I remember well… I so much hope to find them back one day..

    Comment by Miki | March 19, 2008

  2. Wow! It’s hard to imagine something very personal I have written to be out and about in the world for anyone to read. But I guess, as artists, we reveal to the world something very personal every time we show our art.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | March 20, 2008

  3. This was a really interesting and heartwarming story. The human punchline, the fact that this dear old lady is still alive and kicking, was just perfect. – and how true that the thirst for knowledge and the stuff of life passes so many youngsters by nowadays.

    Comment by kevmoore | March 20, 2008

  4. i try to find THE INTIMATE DAIRY OF BAUDELAIRE… any one can help me…

    Comment by saifuzzman shohag | April 24, 2008

  5. Hi Saifuzzman!
    I just know that the intimate diary of Baudelaire is available in French on Amazone France. The title is “Mon coeur mis a nu”.
    Anyway: nice to see that somebody apparently not French isinterested in it! (I am French and I like Baudelaire very much)

    Comment by Miki | April 24, 2008

  6. thanks a lot miki… i am a bangladesi… i want to make a friendship with u… r u agree with me… please mail me… here is my e-mail address :
    i am waiting for ur respons.
    take care…

    note : i am not so good in english.

    Comment by saifuzzman shohag | May 14, 2008

  7. hey miki… agai thanks… i visite this site… but i don’t know the frence… can u tell me about the english version of that book… please… try something for a friend… waiting waiting waiting… take care

    Comment by saifuzzman shohag | May 14, 2008

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