Tuesday, January 4, 2022

What I Read: The Lost Diary of M

Since I was five years old and my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Fischel taught me to read, losing myself in the pages of a book has been one of life's greatest pleasures. I was the kid who always had her nose in a book. My family still teases me about being eight years old at an Atlanta Falcons game in the old Fulton County Stadium... the crowd roaring around me while I'm curled up in my seat with Nancy Drew. 

As a child, nothing thrilled me more than when Mrs. Hagler and Mrs. McCurdy (the dearly-remembered guardians of the Lithia Springs Public Library) allowed me to check out more books than the official limit. And I always had to staple in extra pages to my summer reading contest list. 

But as an adult, I've never really kept track of what I've read, so I thought it might be fun this year to try and keep a running list and share some thoughts.

On New Year's Eve, I finished The Lost Diary of M by Paul Wolfe. 

As a history nut who lived in DC for more than 20 years, this was my kind of read. I've always loved tales of the legendary hostesses and parties of that era.

Mary Pinchot Meyer was an actual woman - part of the Georgetown social scene during the Camelot years and a known mistress of JFK. She did, in fact, keep a diary that was destroyed by her brother-in-law Ben Bradlee and James Jesus Angelton after her highly-suspicious death in 1964.

This is a fictional reimagining of that diary. Wolfe comes from an advertising background and has a  very lyrical way with words -- without being overly wordy -- that I liked.  I found myself lingering over many phrases that just seemed beautifully put. And I think the moral complexity of JFK is probably more true-to-life than many of his admirers would like to admit.

And while I liked it, I can say that it's probably not for everyone. If you like straightforward storytelling where heroes are venerated (especially if you see JFK as a hero and not the incredibly complex man that he was), then this might not be the book for you. 


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