I’ve been reading about people. About real people, not fiction people.
First I read Anne de Courcy’s book The Viceroy’s Daughters, the Lives of the Curzon Sisters. 435 pages of un-putdownable reading. This book is based on private diaries, family letters and photographs, on talks with people reminiscing past events. It’s about the time when the wealth and privilege of the British upper classes were at their highest. It’s about parties glittering with magnificent jewellry, about operating on the highest political levels during both World Wars, about sibling rivalry, about house parties and Mediterranean holidays and about messy domestic morality.
Who writes letters today? How many people keep diaries or other records in a format that anyone can access years from now? People communicate by email, text messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, they tweet. How is all this going to be preserved for the generations to come?
I’ve kept a diary for years. I keep a diary to think to myself and to keep my handwriting reasonably legible. In fact, I have a cardboard box full of them, the years indicated on the spine of each book I’ve filled. Something for someone to read sometime in the far, far future. I used to fill a book in a year but I've been slack these past six years. However, before the end of the year I will open the pages of a new book.
Then I read a book written by Wilhemina. This book was in my parents’ bookcase for as long as I can remember and I always wondered Wilhemina who? but never took it out to find out or never asked. Lonely but not Alone is the title. When emptying the bookcase last spring this was one the books I took for myself. This is a book of memoirs written by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in 1955. She was the present King’s great-grandmother. She wrote the book for her compatriots at home and overseas so some of the things are a bit obscure for a foreigner. Nothing flamboyant about this great, wise lady. Compared with the Curzon sister, she is – different. Yet, interestingly, their lives overlap both in time and geography, as Wilhelmina fled to England during the Second World War, giving luncheons at Claridges, working there during air raids as Claridges was considered one of the safest places in London at the time. The Curzon sisters stayed at this hotel during the war, as well. They may even have met each other, if just in passing.
Now I’m off to South America, on the pages of a book published in 1948 when traveling abroad was not that common. Traveling in an armchair was very popular then. My uncle gave this to his mother on mothers’ day 1951.
I'm Piisa and I will be sharing with you my thoughts on this and that, maybe even on whatever.