BOOK REVIEW: Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief

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
Pages: 112

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


About Susan Marie Molloy

I am an observer, a writer, and a poet. My latest poetry books, "Indigo Fantasy," "Life in the Oasis," "Gallery Night," "God of the Sea," and "Grapes Suzette" and my short stories, "The Green Gloves" and "The Crowd of Turin" are now available on Amazon. Check them out. Buy them. Read them. Send me your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you. View all posts by Susan Marie Molloy

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