My grandmother – the inspiration for Ann Jamieson in Unravelled – kept a diary one year. She was in her sixties at the time, living half the year in Florida with my grandfather and Ella, one of her sisters-in-law. Ella was the sister left behind in England with a maiden aunt when her parents and two or three of her siblings (I’m unsure of the number) emigrated to Canada. I try to imagine what that must have been like – a little girl essentially abandoned by her family, not to see any of them again for years and years.
Scandalously, Ella married her uncle – not a blood uncle but an uncle by marriage. To escape the gossip of a small English town, she and her husband left England and settled in Florida. After her husband died, she made a little money working in a dental office. Eventually, my grandfather purchased a home that Ella lived in year-round while my grandparents came for the winter.
Ella behaved like a spoiled child when she lived with Grandma and Grandpa. She threw tantrums and often accused my grandmother of being mean to her. I think my grandmother would have referred to this situation as one of life’s little crosses she had to bear.
Here’s an excerpt where she explains buying the diary:
I finally managed to buy this book for my Diary. It needn’t be kept a secret, but I would prefer to. I feel the need of a little privacy and it is a scarce article in this house. Les, I know, likes some time to ponder over his affairs. He has no difficulty – just retires to the den and becomes absorbed in his papers. No one disturbs him. I have some conspiring to do before I can arrange my little sessions. Writing letters is, of course, a legitimate exercise, and can be indulged in regularly as long as it can be managed under a running commentary on the news, some scandal, or any other items uppermost in Ella’s mind at that time. It would be difficult to explain why I am writing in a book and of what use to waste time on it and so I shall write in secret, if possible. Probably is a waste of time, and surely is of no use to anyone but me – and so I shall continue.
Just a little insight into my grandmother’s character.