Not many people would have such a belief in frankness that they would be willing to publish unfiltered the thoughts they wrote in diaries 50 years ago.
Of course, even fewer can put their hands on their 50-year-old diaries.
“I have always kept them, so wherever I went, I just packed them along with me  so I have boxes all over the house of diaries. I have a big suitcase under my bed,” said Beth Kaplan, whose store of journals and old letters form the basis for All My Loving.
Kaplan was 14 when her Dalhousie University professor father went on sabbatical and took his family to Paris for a year. As a young girl, she decided the Bois de Boulogne wasn’t nearly as nice as Point Pleasant Park, but that the food in Paris represented a step up from the dull fare of 1960s Halifax.
The title of the book stems from her obsession with Paul McCartney.
“I just knew that the story of the Beatles and of France, that particular year, was something I wanted to tell because I particularly loved the stories that I wrote about Paul McCartney,” Kaplan said. “I thought they were in such a wonderfully innocent voice of a young girl who doesn’t know anything about love or sex, at all, at that point, and is imagining it all. And in a difficult year, I was inventing this wonderful love that kept me going. And, of course, the man himself is so phenomenal  and I do feel there’s this man out there who I love deeply and have loved all my life.”
All My Loving doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the teenage Kaplan’s perceived shortcomings of her mother and father, as spouses and as parents. She acknowledges that the book would have made for awkward family gatherings if it was published earlier.
“Families are rarely happy with the story being told. I teach memoir writing  and I tell my students there’s no place in a memoir for secrets. There is a place for discretion  which is not publishing something that’s going to hurt someone else, particularly a child. But as for stuff about myself or about my parents, first of all, my parents are dead, and I’ve been working on this book for years, but it only came out this year because my mother died recently.”
While living in Paris, Kaplan camped with Girl Guides from Belgium, roamed the city by Metro, learned a little about sex and got to attend two Beatles concerts held on the same day. She said All My Loving would have been impossible to write if she hadn’t hauled her diaries with her through several subsequent moves across Canada.
“It wasn’t just the diaries, but I had letters. I was very lucky that the character called Hillary, which is a pseudonym, who was an old friend of mine from Tower Road School, gave me back all the letters that I had written to her from France. So, for example, the Beatles concert, the description in the book, is taken almost verbatim from my letter to Hillary.”
In the fall, Kaplan will do a public reading from her book at Halifax Grammar School, of which her father was a co-founder. And while as a woman in her 60s she is obviously very different from the 14-year old girl that lived in Paris, her obsession with McCartney never waned.
“I still love him deeply. I have seen him three times in concert within the last 10 years and he’s just amazing.”