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Yours Truly (Women Of Letters) – Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire

on November 22, 2013

Yours TrulyYours Truly (Women Of Letters)
Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire
Penguin Books Aus
2013, 448p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire have been reviving the lost art of writing letters. Beginning with Women of Letters, they invited women to write a letter on a certain topic and then read it aloud at a live event and later released the letters in book form. The events proved to be very popular and last year they invited men to join the party and released a second collection of letters entitled Sincerely (Women of Letters). This is the third collection and once again contains letters from both men and women of all walks of life (but mostly creative types) writing letters to a variety of topics.

I’m a bit of a sucker for the written letter and it really is a bit of a lost art these days, replaced by the instant accessibility of exchange in the form of emails. When I was in late primary school/early high school I used to have several pen pals including a couple from overseas. And then when I was 16 I got an email address and fell in love with the fact that I could talk to my friend, who I hadn’t seen in years without having to wait the 1-2 weeks between letters. However, I still retain a soft spot for the traditional form of communication. I think it’s why I keep all my family’s birthday cards, the anniversary cards, the Mother’s Day cards, the Father’s Day cards. I enjoyed the Sincerely collection when I read and reviewed it last year and I was pleased when this book turned up on my doorstep. I hadn’t known that a new collection was out and these books are perfect for people who like to read in bits and pieces. You can read 1 letter at a time or you can sit down and read the entire book.

With such participants as Hamish Blake and Zoë Foster Blake (writing to each other about what to write about in their letters about writing to each other in a truly amusing exchange), William McInnes, Sarah Blasko, Annabel Crabb, Jennifer Byrne, Tracey Spicer, Toni Jordan, Andy Griffiths, Corrine Grant, Bob Brown, Frank Woodley, Kram, Leigh Sales, Merv Hughes and many more, encompassing such topics as To The Woman That Changed My Life, To A Secret, To The History I’d Like To Rewrite, To My Biggest Sacrifice, To My Petty Crimes and others, Yours Truly runs the gauntlet from beautiful, sad pieces (such as my favourite in the entire collection, Emilie Zoe Baker’s confession of her secret affair with a guilty food pleasure and how it relates to a person in her past that she loved and who couldn’t love her the same way in return) to the humerous to the whimsical to the slightly horrifying (Annabel Crabb’s confession to curator and vegan, Marieke Hardy).

When I was reading it, I was part enjoying the stories and part thinking about what I might say myself for some of these topics. Some, such as To My Petty Crimes brought back memories of my own childhood as a popular theme seemed to be childhood shoplifting. I remember sneaking a chocolate myself from a supermarket before I understood the concept of paying – my mother was very quick to inform me of that and make sure that I did not repeat it! Also when I was old enough to know better, I stole a very ugly orange bangle from a cheap jewelry store just because I could really. I didn’t even like it. I hate orange. In a store full of cheap ugly jewlry, it was the cheapest ugliest thing in there! The Woman Who Changed My Life, I would dedicate that letter to my lovely Nan who plied me with books in my childhood – first the BabySitters Club, then Sweet Valley High and then she passed on her own books. She is the reason I read so much today, she is the reason I have a deep love of books. I can remember she used to always take me out for lunch, maybe a bit of shopping and the day would always end in her making me a new book purchase. I have fond memories of those days (which lasted really until I went away to university) and even now when I visit she likes to sit down with me and talk about what she has read recently. She is in her 80s now and very recently widowed and I know that every moment we have is precious. There are other topics that make me think of things deeply personal, things that I can’t imagine standing up on a stage in front of an audience and reading a letter aloud. It’s admirable, these people that lay themselves and their moments on the line for people to go and see and then read about in these volumes.

Yours Truly is another highly enjoyable collection.

8/10

Book #299 of 2013

AWW2013

Yours Truly is book #102 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013.

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3 responses to “Yours Truly (Women Of Letters) – Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire

  1. Thanks, this looks like a useful and diverse read. 🙂

  2. Grace says:

    This sounds intriguing. While I love the convenience of e-mail, the very tangibility and effort required to send a letter conveys a greater sense of thoughtfulness. I haven’t written a letter i years, but it’s something that I miss.

  3. Jan says:

    This sounds really interesting and I think I’d definitely be reading it and wondering what I’d write as well!

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