I've read this before, though I do not own a copy...yet. While my finances are not, and thankfully have never been in as dire a situation as Sarah's were at the writing of this book, I , like so many other people all over the world, do live under the shadow of debt, and quite often my family is living paycheck to paycheck. Sarah's tips and advice for sorting out debt, rearranging and re-managing spending, and tucking away 'pin money' are interspersed with beautifully written essays of real-life living, sparkling wit, and good humor even in the face of debt collectors. I highly recommend it, whether you actually need it or not. :)
Scathing. Witty. Amusing. Enlightening. Alice James' diary is everything you expect a diary to be, and more. Her entries near the end, dictated to Katharine Peabody Loring because James could no longer write them are especially noteworthy. She knew she was dying, and she took that much more time to closely observe the world around her, as though to carry the memories into the next world.
I found this book to be slow-going, but I am SO glad I stuck with it. It is absolutely charming. Written by a Victorian-era spinster, the language is delicate, but she very readily alluded to certain details, but in such a way that it comes across as amusing rather than stuffy. Kingsley wrote very conversationally: you can imagine yourself seated in her parlor, Wedgewood tea service set before you, spellbound as you listen to her adventures. Later you follow her into the library to view her albums of plant and flower pressing taken from West Africa. Really, simply charming.
(For some reason the image of The Captain's Lady Cookbook-Personal Journal won't copy. See the entry from June 1st)
I am not entirely sure this is not a work of fiction. If so, it is a well-researched fiction, but the language, written at nearly the same time as Mary Kingsley's book, is too.....fluffy. I have no doubt the recipes are authentic, but the actual diary entries seem to candied and overblown to be an actual diary, especially as I am currently working on the diary of Mary Chipman Lawrence (The Captain's Best Mate: the Journal of Mary Chipman Lawrence on the Whaler 'Addison', 1856-1860) and her writing and language is very much like Kingsley's.
And to continue on with Mary Lawrence, I find that her book was not one that I listed on the reading list, but oh well. Let's call it an Easter Egg bonus: I am near the end of the journey, Mrs. Captain and her little family are near home, and what a thrilling adventure it has been. We have been all over the Pacific ocean on our search for whales, have stopped in at the islands of Hawaii for several rests and re-fittings, and now we are on our way back to New Bedford.
That's it for now, my friends. After I finish Mrs. Lawrence's diary, I will embark upon world travels with Ladies on the Loose!