today is the first day of the rest of my life

- and I feel pretty good about it, wrapping up some noodges and glitches and unfinished business, and setting a new pot of soup (bone broth) on the stove.    I finished reading another large book, too.

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt, edited by Simon Garfield, is 712 pages long, another book I can read only at the breakfast table because ti's too big to hold in my hands to read.I mentioned it a while ago when I planned to read as far as the years covering World War Two and then leave it as i didn't like Jean very much at first.  She grew on me, though, and I stayed with her as she matured.  She began her diary on April 18 in 1925 when she was 15 years old and ended it 61 years later just a few days before she died in 1986. Her editor, Simon Garfield, has published 16 books and I have a couple of them, both edited books: Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Post-War Britain  (2004); and We Are At War: The Remarkable Diaries of Five Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times (2009), both much smaller than Pratt's tome (published in 2015). I was bound to read them, not only because I am committed to diaries but also because i need lots of background knowledge for my screenplay set in WWII.  Garfield  knows some influential writers who gave our Jean some commendations, notably Hilary Mantel who said she was interested to find out when Jean would lose her virginity.  

There was more to it than that.  Poor Jean Pratt was one of that generation of  young English women who lost their potential husbands in two world wars. The men who were around had their pick of women and I guess she was not the choicest morsel,  although when she hits her stride she sounds pretty insatiable.  She says later in life when the fire has cooled that she could have been a nymphomaniac. 

She was well educated,  a writer - of sorts? - actually published a book, a biography of an English actress. In later years she ran a bookstore, specialising in books for cat-lovers, being herself a lover and owner of cats, lots of them.  And, of course, she kept  a long, faithful diary.  I've noticed in the course of  my reading women's diaries that many of the long-term writers came to regard their journals as their lifetime achievement.   They were right. It's only in the last couple of decades that women's "life writing" has begun to be valued as more than mere private, self-indulgent pages. I cherish the insights they give me into "ordinary lives" as Simon Garfiield calls them, and gain thereby further insight into my own ordinary life. I find them very humbling. We must all "come to terms with nothingness."

And tomorrow is the next day of my life.