Here’s a surprisingly enchanting novelette that speaks about society from the viewpoint of a (female) handkerchief, and it was written by James Fenimore Cooper, which piqued my interest.
This story is a satire on the subject of egotistically trying to achieve a higher social status, and was originally written as a series that was first published in Graham’s Magazine in 1843.
The story takes the reader on a double trans-Atlantic voyage, narrated by a fancy linen and lace handkerchief. It cleverly begins with a flax seed that grows, is harvested, carded, and made into a fine linen handkerchief. It continues with its sale, its adornment with beautiful handmade lace, and its travels between France and the United States and various owners.
I got a kick out of the premise of this story. The handkerchief is “female”, so I could “hear” the female voice narrating in a soothing way, and because the handkerchief was “born” in France, it has a French accent, in my mind. It’s a clever story-telling viewpoint.
The novelette is filled with French words and phrases; however, if the reader doesn’t know a bit of French, don’t despair! There are translations on each page. I don’t think it takes away from the story, but rather, it’s an enhancement.
I liked this story for Cooper’s writing style, the point of view, and bits of humor that work well in our twenty-first century society. The interaction between the handkerchief and a shirt was priceless, as were references to New Yorkers’ noses.
Some topics surpass centuries and societies. This one does, hands down.
“Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief”
Author: James Fenimore Cooper
Publication date: 1843
©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.