I just finished an interesting memoir called Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, which was penned by an anonymous author. It’s about a woman who, facing a divorce, single parenthood and the loss of her father, decided on a whim to launch a Twitter account under the name of an alter ego: Duchess Goldblatt. She started posting smart, wry tweets that address the bittersweet nature of life, and slowly but surely amassed a devoted following. (Her account now has almost 50,000 followers). Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is the story of how she created the account and the community that has sprung up around her.
Why I picked it up : I read about Becoming Duchess Goldblatt last year and was immediately interested. Catherine Gilmore’s review sealed the deal.
The anonymous author behind Duchess Goldblatt has faced a lot of sadness in her life, including her brother’s suicide, an acrimonious divorce and the loss of her extended family-in-law. Yet @DuchessGoldblat (not sure why it’s spelled differently on Twitter) is positive and magnanimous, opting not to be bitter or make fun of others but instead to try to find the joy in life. Her alter ego (an 81-year old author living in a small town that is “close to both New York City and Canada”) helped the author heal after the pain of the divorce, while at the same time building a community of people who have come to love Duchess and rely on her for support and comfort in their own lives. She writes of the gatherings her fans have organized, the merchandise they’ve created to express their fandom and the many messages they’ve sent her over the years.
Through her account, the author becomes friends with her famous musician of all time – Lyle Lovett – who reached out to her after seeing her many mentions of him on the account. Their friendship is sweet and touching; she goes to see him perform whenever he is in town and they stay in good touch. But other than Lovett, the author keeps her identity a secret from almost all of her followers, several of whom are famous authors or people in the publishing industry. She feels that revealing herself, even to a select few, will ruin the magic that is Duchess Goldblatt.
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is a bittersweet but ultimately uplifting and inspiring memoir. I wasn’t following @DuchessGoldblat before, but I definitely am now.
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt was the 10th book of 2021 and satisfies the memoir category of the 2021 EDIWTB Reading Challenge.