The Diary, by Eileen Gouge

The DiaryThe Diary, Finished audio 6-14-12, rating 3/5, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio 6 hours 30 minutes. Read by Susan Ericksen

Elizabeth Marshall lies in a nursing home after a stroke has left her unresponsive.  Her two grown daughters discover her old diary as they prepare for the worst and pack up their childhood home.  As they read the diary together they discover a mother they never knew, one with hopes, heartbreak, passion, and strength.  The diary describes the two loves of Elizabeth’s life and the ultimate moment when she had to choose between the two.

First, let me quibble with the description provided by the publisher.  The last line is, It’s also the story of the unshakable bond between a mother and her daughters.  Um, no, it’s really not.  The daughters, obviously, knew very little about their mother as a person and there was really no chance for them to recover that lost time except through a series of diary entries that covered only a small portion of their mother’s youth.

This book had three viewpoints, the daughters in current day, their mother’s written entries, and then the detailed story behind each entry which was not in the first person.  I found the jump between the three off-putting.  I liked Elizabeth’s story, but the jumping in and out of it left me less than fully engaged.  I actually started to resent the daughters for intruding on their mother’s story with their boring and clueless observations.  Yes, that seems harsh, but it’s true.  If they had been more compelling characters it may have worked  better for me since Elizabeth was a great character and I’d have rather heard the story straight from her.

Elizabeth’s story was a good one, even if there wasn’t anything terrible original.  The only thing that set it apart is how it was told and while I disliked the jumping between viewpoints it did allow for some much needed suspense at the end. The end was not a complete surprise to me (as it was to those silly daughters) but there were enough questions to want me to keep listening.  Why did Elizabeth end up with stable Bob and not passionate AJ?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I thought it was a solid and enjoyable audio book, but I wasn’t totally into it.  I borrowed the audio book from the library.