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Through No Fault of My Own

A Girl’s Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age

2011
Author:

Coco Irvine
Introduction by Peg Meier

Through No Fault of My Own

A young teenage girl’s escapades as part of St. Paul’s social elite in the 1920s

On Christmas Day, 1926, twelve-year-old Clotilde “Coco” Irvine received a blank diary as a present. The daughter of a lumber baron, Coco grew up in a twenty-room mansion on fashionable Summit Avenue at the peak of the Jazz Age. Her diary carefully records her adventures, problems, and romances, written with a lively wit and a droll sense of humor.

The glimpses of Coco's privileged life in the Roaring 20s are intriguing and humorous, but what makes this account so appealing is the clear evocation of what it is to be 13—impatient to be grown up yet still childlike in many ways. Coco's innocence will make today's readers smile. Her newfound interest in boys, especially one she calls ‘He,’ who might or might not like her, will resonate with middle-school girls. Peg Meier's introduction explains the story's provenance and provides some context; her conclusion summarizes the rest of Coco's life. Give this actual diary to readers who have enjoyed books in the Dear America series.

Kirkus Reviews

On Christmas Day, 1926, twelve-year-old Clotilde “Coco” Irvine received a blank diary as a present. Coco loved to write—and to get into scrapes—and her new diary gave her the opportunity to explain her side of the messes she created: “I’m in deep trouble through no fault of my own,” her entries frequently began. The daughter of a lumber baron, Coco grew up in a twenty-room mansion on fashionable Summit Avenue at the peak of the Jazz Age, a time when music, art, and women’s social status were all in a state of flux and the economy was still flying high.

Coco’s diary carefully records her adventures, problems, and romances, written with a lively wit and a droll sense of humor. Whether sneaking out to a dance hall in her mother’s clothes or getting in trouble for telling an off-color joke, Coco and her escapades will captivate and delight preteen readers as well as their mothers and grandmothers.

Peg Meier’s introduction describes St. Paul life in the 1920s and provides context for the privileged world that Coco inhabits, while an afterword tells what happens to Coco as an adult—and reveals surprises about some of the other characters in the diary.

Through No Fault of My Own

A lumber baron’s daughter, Coco Irvine Moles (1914–1975) grew up on St. Paul's prestigious Summit Avenue. She and her sister Olivia Irvine Dodge donated their family home to the state of Minnesota in 1965, and since 1966 it has served as the governor's residence.

Peg Meier was a reporter at the Star Tribune for thirty-five years. She is the author of many popular books, including Wishing for a Snow Day, Bring Warm Clothes, and Too Hot, Went to Lake.

Through No Fault of My Own

The glimpses of Coco's privileged life in the Roaring 20s are intriguing and humorous, but what makes this account so appealing is the clear evocation of what it is to be 13—impatient to be grown up yet still childlike in many ways. Coco's innocence will make today's readers smile. Her newfound interest in boys, especially one she calls ‘He,’ who might or might not like her, will resonate with middle-school girls. Peg Meier's introduction explains the story's provenance and provides some context; her conclusion summarizes the rest of Coco's life. Give this actual diary to readers who have enjoyed books in the Dear America series.

Kirkus Reviews

This charming little reproduction of the year she recorded will resonate with contemporary teens and readers who remember the Irvine sisters.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

An unrepentant attention-seeker, Coco gets into frequent trouble at home and at school, but her exuberance, defiance, and sweetness will win over readers from her first entry. This effervescent journal demonstrates Irvine’s early, intense enthusiasm for writing and independent thought, as well as her unmistakable talent. Photos of Coco and an afterword about her (fairly tragic) adult life round out an otherwise blithe glimpse into the past.

Publishers Weekly

The diary is concise and consistently charming, often unintentionally so, and definitely worth a read. If Coco hadn’t really existed, nobody would believe someone this exuberant and madcap could be real. Readers who like strong characters with an unforgettable voice and a unique view on life will find Coco’s Jazz age adventures deeply satisfying.

Star Tribune

Coco’s antics will leave you in stitches. And arranged as it is in this sweet little volume (a mere 6 x 4 inch trim size), you will enjoy her story as the year unfolds.

BookMania

The Jazz Age may be a highly glamorized era in America’s history, but Coco manages to tone down the rose-tint and show us that times don’t really change, and neither do people. Through No Fault of My Own is, without a doubt, a memoir worth being nosy over.

The Book Nook (blog)

This delightful diary recounts both love letters and paper doll games; in so doing, it evokes not only nostalgia for the glamorous Jazz Age but also the more immediate transition between childhood and adolescence.

Minnesota History

This entertaining little page-turner will appeal to pre-teen girls on up to their grandmas.

Woodbury-South Maplewood Perspectives

Meier has done it again, with her delving into the not-so-distant past of Minnesotans. I adored this sweet little book, and the lovely author.

Examiner

Cute, precocious, rich as sin- how could anyone resist Clotilde “Coco” Irvine?

Minnesota Monthly

Through No Fault of My Own is a lively portrait of a mischievous and self-assured girl, with as much energy and wit as her family had wealth.

St. Paul Academy Magazine

Through No Fault of My Own

Author website: Peg Meier, Writer

UMP blog: Peg Meier on unearthing Coco Irvine (1914-1975) from the MHS archives

A treasure hunt, that’s what it is.
For fun, I sift through archives of the Minnesota Historical Society. Some days, nothing golden shows up. Other days, bonanza!
One of my best finds was the 1927 diary of a St. Paul girl. Her name was Coco Irvine, and she turned 13 that January. Her one-year diary made it clear she was smart, funny, adventurous and prone to getting into trouble. Lots of trouble.

Read on ...