The diary that started it all…

My trip abroadOn May 20, 1936, a young college girl boarded the SS Manhattan and, waving excitedly to her family on the pier, sailed out of New York harbor, bound for Paris. She was to spend eight months studying art and design at the Ecole des Arts Appliqués.

The charming, lively Gladys Goodman was 21 years old, lived in Brooklyn and studied at Columbia University. She had a wide smile, fashionably short dark hair, and a splendid wallaby fur coat. And, among the kid gloves, silk lingerie, and cashmere sweaters in the bulging trunk in her stateroom,  she kept a small red leather diary entitled in gilt lettering: My Trip Abroad.

Almost seventy years later, I found my mother’s diary. I studied the daily entries in her looping generous script, marveling at her irrepressible energy and humor; at the sheer range of celebrated artists, writers and musicians she encountered; and at the innocence with which she viewed a Europe soon to be shattered by the cruelest war in history.

Of course a naive 21 year-old couldn’t read the signs of the coming carnage, though with hindsight we see them everywhere. But what of those who should have known better, the political leaders who appeased Hitler instead of opposing him? The more I researched, the more horrified I grew to see the corruption, betrayal, and lies of these years; the more I was filled with admiration for those courageous few who spoke the truth.

My fascination with this somber, brilliant and dramatic era focused on its agonizing dilemmas. Do you compromise your beliefs for the sake of peace? Risk your life for what’s right or flee for safety? Avoid war at all costs or stand up to evil, knowing war will bring untold suffering? History doesn’t repeat itself, but there are many so parallels to our world today. I had to explore these questions in fiction. And thus my coming novel “The Minotaur in Paris” was born.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Jean O'Sullivan says:

    Lovely website full of interesting nooks and crannies… and your mother’s actual diary! Can you scan in a page or two so we can admire that loopy handwriting?
    Félicitations, chérie!

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