Review: The Diary (and a tie-in)

The Diary, by Eileen Goudge

Mother's Day is rapidy approaching and the timing for Eileen Goudge's new novel couldn't have been better.

The Diary tells the story of two sisters, grown well into adulthood, who come across a diary....their mother's diary as a young woman.

Author Eileen Goudge has hit upon a timeless question: how well do any of us really know our mothers? Mothers are part of the fabric of our being. They feed us, care for us, fix us when we're broken and all too often, we take this in stride with nary a thought as to who they are as a person. Simply put, they are just mom.

Rarely, if ever, do we give thought to who our mother's really are: their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations and disappointments. Perhaps this is a natural phenomenon. After all, what if the part we - their children - played in their lives isn't what we thought it would be?

The Diary tries to answer some of these questions with a tender, heart-warming flavor. At only 224 pages, the story is too short to develop characters to their full potential, but this doesn't detract from the novel by any means.

Told in a series of flashbacks introduced by a diary entry, the reader is taken back for a look at a young woman's series of choices that may, or may not, have cost her her one true love. While the story certainly is engaging enough, it is A Reader's Respite's opinion (read: take it with a grain of salt) that the brief present-day scenes between the sisters as they read their mother's diary could have been left out entirely with no harm done.

Which brings us to our recent informal poll and many thanks to those who participated. It would seem that the use of the word "Sis" in conversation with one's sister finds somewhat common usage in the Southern U.S. For those readers who are familiar with the vernacular down South, the dialogue in The Diary won't phase you a bit. For the rest of us, however, it has moments where the use of words like "sis" creates awkward, stilted dialogue that detracts from the story.

In short, it kind of bugged us.

Still, the novel had more good points than not and would make a lovely Mother's Day read or gift. The idea of our mothers before they were mothers is intriguing indeed.

Want to read this book? Leave a comment and on Friday, May 8th, A Reader's Respite will pick a random winner!

Title: The Diary
Author: Eileen Goudge
ISBN-13: 978-1593155438
224 pages
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Date: April 7, 2009

Some more reviews for your perusal:

Stephanie's Written Word
Lesa's Book Critiques
Single Titles
Wendy's Minding Spot
Fresh Fiction
Writings of a Loud Librarian
Ramya's Bookshelf


  1. I had to go back and look at your informal poll and it looks like I'm in the minority, but here in the South, I hear people say "Sis" and "Sister" all the time. I think I would enjoy this book and I'm pretty sure that reading sis wouldn't bother me.

  2. I see where you are coming from with the "Sis" thing - to me it would be a bit wierd. The book sounds great though. Thanks for the review.

    ♥ Nely

  3. Sounds like an interesting book.
    Being a northerner who grew up in Michigan, moved to Atlanta for school, somehow picked up a vaguely Canadian accent (while in Georgia...yeah, it amazes me) and now am living in Texas and working with a number of Brits, I think I can deal with the oddities of the dialect.
    Thanks for the chance to win.
    ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Anything about a diary, or has the name in the title, has my attention. I am intrigued with the idea of peeking into another person's life, but of course would never do such a thing unless permitted! I doubt if I know everything in my mom's past, and I sure as hell hope my kids don't figure out all of my skeletons! I would love the chance to read this book. Because I have lived in the South about as long as I lived in the Midwest, I doubt the sis thing would bother me.

  5. This book sounds interesting. Would love to read it.

  6. I have mixed feelings about the use of "sis." I think it's fine when others use it, just don't expect me to use it for my sisters. :) In other words, I don't think it would annoy me that much when read in a book (but who knows). Anyway, I love reading books based around diary entries.

  7. Thanks for a great review...sounds like a good book. Don't really have an opinion about the 'sis' thing - I guess it would have to flow with the conversation for it not to bother me.

  8. Sounds like a decent read, but I'll likely skip it for now. I grew up in the Midwest and I don't think anyone ever used Sis.

  9. Great review first of all! I was just wondering the same thing but in the reverse order: as a mom thinking how much my daughter really knows about me or care to know about me. Does she only pick up on the traits that irk her or is she aware of me as a person?

    The book sounds intersting as well even though I've never read anything by Gouge. I'd like to have my chance at winning it.

  10. It sounds very interesting. I would love to know my parents as people instead of as parents!

  11. Don't enter me, this one is on my to be reviewed list already. Great review, sounds like I'll enjoy it. (Glad to hear it is SHORT! Can't seem to read fast enough).

  12. Sounds like an interesting read Michele...please enter me.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  13. Sounds like a really good book. Please enter me.

  14. I'm kind of on a kick with diaries after reading The Red Leather Diary so I'd love to read this one.
    Thanks for the review and giveaway Michele!

  15. This one sounds interesting. I know I don't know as much about my mother as I'd like. I've never called my sister "Sis" or "Sister," and I don't know anyone who does.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  16. I wish my mom liked reading as much as I do so that I could buy her this book. *sigh*

    Great review! Also: I adore your layout!

  17. I have heard sis used, but not in the fashion where someone uses it as a frequent description/name. Depending on how often that were to creep up, I can see how it could annoy.

  18. I have seen this book around and it looks really good. I love the cover too. Ans yes 'The idea of our mothers before they were mothers is intriguing indeed' is so true. I keep on asking my mom about her life as a kid or as a college girl.

  19. Well, my husband calls his sister "Sissy" which I find even more annoying than Sis!

    This sounds like an interesting book ... it does make me wonder about my mother...but perhaps I don't WANT to know her secret dreams, fears, loves. Might be too disturbing in a way. I know there was this boy named Jimmy in her past and that it ended badly but I don't know too much about does sound like it would be a good story though.

  20. I live in Maryland. I have 3 sisters and one of them we actually call "Sis" because her nickname is Sissy. She got that from our younger brother when she was born he couldn't say her name or sister so he called her Sissy and we have just shortened it from there. I don't call any of my other sisters Sis and none of them call me that. We just use our names. This sounds like a good book. I know my kids don't really know the real me! They are still young though.

  21. I would to have loved to have read my mother's diary... but she wrote it in Korean and there was no chance!



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