Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coco's diary: Don't read this "under pain of death"

Through No Fault of My Own is the bona fide diary of Coco Irvine, age 13, back in 1927.
A GIRL'S DIARY IS SACRED, often guarded by lock and key, always hidden in a secret location. That is, until it's found in a library.

Peg Meier, a retired newspaper reporter and author, discovered Coco Irvine's 1927 diary at the Minnesota Historical Society Library when researching another of her books, Wishing for a Snow Day: Growing Up in Minnesota, published late last year.

Meier says she had to stifle her guffaws in the library so funny were many of Coco's entries — although she didn't always mean them to be humorous. In one passage, the 13-year-old explains how when bouncing a basketball at school, she "inadvertently hit the fire alarm" and caused "a rumpus." She adds that "most everyone I know is the worst kind of sissy and they don't have the least idea of how exciting it is to hope very much with one side of you that the ball will hit the fire alarm and the other side is scared to death it will!" This adventure is tame by comparison to several of her other exploits, which would get any teenager in trouble still today.

No wonder her 80-plus-year-old diary finds wide publication this month as Through No Fault of My Own, the title selected in honor of her many entries that begin with those words.

Meier says she knew immediately that Coco's diary had to be published. "I'm so grateful that the University of Minnesota Press agreed," she says. Meier not only supplied the introduction, offering the Jazz Age context as the diary's backdrop, but researched Coco's family, history and estate. And what she found made the diary extra riveting: Coco was the daughter of a lumber baron and grew up in the mansion now home to the Minnesota governor.

Like to read more? Order the book directly from the publisher ( or through a major online seller. Better yet, leave a comment here: One lucky AttaGirl reader will win a signed copy.

Minnesota readers: Attend the book launch event on Saturday, April 16, 2 p.m., at Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church in St. Paul (sponsored by Common Good Books). Peg Meier will also read from the book at Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis, on Monday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.


  1. I MUST read this book. If I don;t win it, I will DEFINITELY buy it!! Coco sounds like my kind of girl.

  2. Ooh this sounds like an awesome book!

  3. This sounds like a great read. And I love the cover art! Coco must have been quite a creative young lady; it never occurred to me at that age to use "through no fault of my own" as a disclaimer for anything :P

  4. N and Em's momApril 14, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    I will have to buy this book if by some cruel twist of fate (drat statistics!) I don't win.

  5. I'm always so amazed by authors who have a stash of old correspondence, or diaries, that they are willing to share with the world. Do they photo (or, I guess, hand...)-copy their originals? And truthfully, I would NOT want anyone to read my diary from my 'formative' years. Good lord. But kudos to those folks who have material that can be shared with the rest of us!

  6. It sounds absolutely delightful — a "must have" book.