Collage of diary as a house, and a photo of the diary lying amongst maps and papers

Have you ever found a diary in a charity shop?

Imagine you’re in second-hand shop. You’ve passed through the crockery section, go left through the clothes section and start browsing the bookshelves. In the corner of your eye you see a small, red leather-bound book. On the cover, in gold ornate writing, it says “Diary”, followed by “1944”.

You grab it, feel its soft, delicate cover, and open it on a random page. Inside the yellowed lined paper announces the day, month and date:

Monday, May 29. Bank holiday.

Then in fountain-pen:

Hotter than ever.

Cut some straw with G.F. Took the rest of the day easy. N. R. + C. went to E. with Kit and the gig.

Eggs. D1, H1, BR.6 =8

What a cryptic message! N, R and C, went to E.! Eggs? You leaf through the pages and the rest are similar. You see N again, and C. Lots of eggs. But no clue as to who wrote it, or where they were!

It’s a mystery. You’d like to know at least a little more, at least find out who wrote it, or maybe even who N. R. and C. are, wouldn’t you?

Well, this is what happened to Carla van Beers, who found this English diary in a second-hand shop in the Hague, the Netherlands.

She didn’t just wonder who wrote the diary and how it came to be in the Netherlands. No, she became a detective on the trail of the diarist, following the writer from the Dutch city of the Hague to rural England.

Would you like to know what happened? And would you like to learn what you should do, if you ever find an anonymous diary in a charity shop somewhere?

She’s written about her experiences in the newly released Diary, 1944: A return ticket to the past. In it you can find out exactly how much information you can reclaim from the past, who knows, you may even be able to look the diarist in the eye.

You can find it on Amazon for £14.50.

And I created the book’s cover art!

 

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