Likely Stories : The Diary, by Eileen Goudge

Oct 21, 2021

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

The Diary by Eileen Goudge is a touching tale of love, betrayal, and danger.


The story begins, Goudge writes, “The diary was bound in maroon leather with age, its gilt tooling worn away in spots.  Sewn into the binding was a satin bookmarker, once red, now faded to the ashy pink of a dried, pressed rose” (1).  The two sisters, Emily and Sarah, have discovered a trove of papers in a dusty carton. [   ] “Emily’s attention was drawn back to the diary, which had fallen open to about the midway point.  She struggled to make out their mother’s neat schoolgirl’s handwriting in the dim light.  Her pulse quickened as a passage jumped out at her.  She called urgently to her sister.  ‘Sarah, come quick.  You have to see this.”  Apparently, the words contain a hidden secret about their mother.  Emily was bewildered, ‘Do you think Dad knew?’ (3).

Eileen writes, “Emily, seated cross-legged on the floor, stared sightlessly at the jumbled pile she’d unearthed from her box: an old clock missing one of its hands, a manila envelope stuffed full of yellowing receipts, back issues of magazines, tattered paperbacks, a JFK campaign button, and an old sombrero with a hole in its brim—a souvenir from a family trip to Acapulco.  ‘You know how she was always telling us Dad was the only man she ever loved?’ she mused out loud before bringing her head sharply to face Sarah.  ‘Do you think that’s what she wanted us to believe?” (4).  I wonder how often children face something like this in their later lives.

The story continues, “Emily brought her sister’s attention back to the first entry, where their mother had written that she was expecting a proposal from Bob soon—proof that they’d been deeply involved at the time.  Then Emily flipped to the earlier passage she’d bookmarked, dates August [twelfth, nineteen-fifty-one], just weeks later” (50.  Then, the girls found a handwritten letter, presumedly from their mother: quote, ‘I don’t see how it’s possible for a human heart to hold all that I feel for AJ.  Can a heart burst from too much love?  How can it be that Bob hasn’t noticed?  Whenever I’m with him, I’m sure it’s written all over my face” (5)

Another entry, Bob asked me to marry him today.  Well, he didn’t come right out and ask.  That’s not his style.  He asked what I wanted for my birthday in September, and I told him to surprise me.  So, he says with this little twinkle in his eye, ‘Oh, I already have something picked out’ (9). 

The Diary by Eileen Goudge is a poignant story confusing for two sisters who find out about their mother.  4 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and Happy Reading!