First Line Friday: 01/06/17

“This is the last night of the year and I have sat here alone by the fire while my dear husband is out and about, and in thinking over how much has happened in the last twelve months I have resolved to keep a journal, and it will be private.”

THE JOURNAL OF MRS PEPYS: Portrait of a Marriage
by Sara George

31st December 1659

This is the last night of the year and I have sat here alone by the fire while my dear husband is out and about, and in thinking over how much has happened in the last twelve months I have resolved to keep a journal, and it will be private. I shall keep it hidden, and it will be mine alone and I shall say whatever I like. So that on days and nights like this it will be company of a sort…

So begins the journal of Elizabeth Pepys, wife of the celebrated diarist Samuel. Theirs is a love match, marred only by their failure to have a child and their struggle for advancement from a state of poverty. But Sam’s star is rising and their prosperity increases, only for their relationship almost to founder because of his infidelities….

This is the story of a passionate, if pain-fraught marriage, of a gloriously rich and robust period in our history and a woman’s passage through the defining years of her life in which her search to draw significance from her existence is punctuated by the everyday urgencies of living. At times jauntily acerbic, at others movingly elegiac, this is a portrait of a tumultuous relationship and era that, in its sharp-edged concerns and emotions, is utterly compelling.

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