Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Regina's Closet by Diana M. Raab

book 9 of 10 for the Book Awards Reading Challenge 09
genre: memoir
rating: 3.5/5

When her aging mother throws a stack of yellowed papers onto her kitchen table, Diana has no idea of the treasure she's just been given. These papers end up being a retrospective journal, written by Diana's late grandmother who lived in Europe previous to World War I. Within the book Regina's Closet, Diana uses the journal as a framework for understanding her Grandmother's past and as well as her decision to take her own life. We experience war-torn Poland and Vienna through the eyes of a child that must grow up far too soon.

The journal itself is fascinating. Regina's childhood was so agonizing - fraught with the misery that befell many as a result of the first Great War, and it also provides a very unique perspective for viewing that time period. She didn't mince details and was painfully honest about her emotions during the hardest times. I felt like I really got a sense of her as a child just from her own descriptions of herself and the experiences that shaped her. I always was engaged when reading her story, despite the fact that it was a very unhappy one.

More than a memoir, this book feels to me like a family history in which Diana helps us out by giving us some context of the time period beyond the journal, as well as what happened in her own life during the time her Grandmother was alive. I appreciated this research, since it fills in some of the holes that necessarily spot any kind of journal. Sometimes when more present day information was inserted to show a relationship to the past, it seemed to move me out of my groove as a reader, a little bit. I suppose it made it harder for me to keep the chronology straight. Don't let this dissuade you from picking this one up, however, if you are interested in the subject - and especially if you have people in your life with depression. I think Diana has a very straightforward and unique story to tell that should certainly be appreciated by many.


Serena said...

Thanks for another great review. Sounds like a book for the WWI reading challenge.

Michelle said...

Corrine, I am so glad you reviewed this book. I have never read this but I had wanted to. It makes me want to call up my grandmother and tell her I love her. Thank you!

Trish said...

I've heard good things about this one, but I can understand how the present being slipped into the past could being a little jarring.

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