The Diary, the first short story in the collection is one of Andrea Levy’s earliest works. In the introduction Andrea Levy says how often people mistakenly think writing short stories takes less time, when in reality it can be consuming as any novel. Although I’m not a writer, I share her view.
Now, moving to the story…
After spending four years in college to get a degree in drama, and despite the talent to become a ‘great actress’, the narrator of The Diary is reduced to a dresser for ballet dancers, and their tutus. At least that is the case until she decides life is too short and quits her job, and as it turns out to become a dresser for theatre!
She told me the pay – I thought she meant per hour; she meant per week. But, ‘Oh, it’s the theatre – just think of the experience,’ she said.
I half believed her. There’s glamour in being exploited for art.
Ultimately the narrator gives into Zania, a follow costume designer who found her the gig, and accepts the job to find out her actor crush – Paul Riceman with whom she dreams of falling in love, is also in the play! But it turns out this is not that kind of a love story. In the narrator’s own words,
I had to admit that after our four weeks together Paul Riceman would have had trouble picking me in an identity parade.
So much for hoping to make an impression!
But maybe, just maybe, all hope is not lost, as she accidentally picks up Paul Riceman’s diary and takes it home.
The Diary by Andrea Levy is an enjoyable, light-hearted read. It doesn’t have a moral to take away, but I’m not complaining! If the rest of the book is even half good as this, I think you will see me picking up Small Island very soon!