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Review: Between Us (Women Of Letters) – Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire

on November 20, 2014

Between UsBetween Us 
Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire
Penguin Books AUS
2014, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Description {from the Publisher}:

Writing a letter can be an act of confession or celebration, while receiving one can bring joy, insight and vivid memories. Ambassadors for correspondence Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire have lured some of our best and brightest to the literary afternoons of Women of Letters to write and read missives of all kinds.

Bestselling novelist Hannah Kent exchanges letters about books, editing and synchronicity with her publisher Alex Craig.

Intimate and outrageous declarations of love and friendship are shared between actor Rhys Muldoon and musician Kram.

And award-winning cartoonist First Dog on the Moon expresses his affection for his editor Sophie Black through drawings (while she sticks to the written word).

Between Us is an inspiring and engaging collection of all-new letters from some of Australia’s best-loved people.

A bit over 4 years ago, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire had a dream to revive the lost art of letter writing and they invited women of influence to read their letters aloud at the launch in Melbourne. This is now the fourth volume of Women of Letters and it’s now become a phenomenon, reaching a greater audience both in Australia and abroad. This is the third volume I’ve read and it amazes me how many times I find something that touches me. In this volume it is without a doubt, Tracey Spicer’s letter to her mother under the heading of ‘To my wake up call’. It would be impossible not to be hooked by the first line of this letter and not be affected by her heartbreaking story. Centered around a very contentious issue (euthanasia or assisted suicide), Spicer details her mother’s last days dying of a cripplingly painful form of cancer and how she couldn’t bring herself to give her mother the assistance they had promised – none of her family could. It is a beautiful letter, utterly blunt in its honesty. In fact I think you can read this letter on the Bookworld site, here. I’d advise everyone to read it, if you aren’t already a supporter of euthanasia, you probably will be after you finish it.

If humour is more your thing rather than soul-baring then there’s plenty for you in here, including some very amusing A Letter To My Other Half pairings where the other halves aren’t always who you might think, including Rhys Muldoon and Kram, Peter and Anna Goldsworthy, The First Dog on the Moon and editor Sophie Black and Claudia Karvan and Jeremy Lindsey Taylor, writing as their characters in Puberty Blues. There’s Chrissie Swan, Cate Kennedy and more writing to their 80-year old selves. And if you feel like going back into more serious territory, Kerryn Phelps has a letter under ‘To My Journey’ which talks of the fight to have same sex marriage recognised.

Between Us is another lovely collection of letters that can be enjoyed in one sitting or savoured and read slowly, picking and choosing from the categories and people that interest you. There’s a brief bio on all of the contributors at the back, which I have to admit I found very helpful as quite a few of them were unfamiliar to me. If a letter isn’t really to your liking, you can just skip it and go to the next one. Some I’ve read more than once and may go back to yet again in the future. As a fan of the written letter, I enjoy seeing these books continue to get published, raising the profile of the lost art. In a world where communication is more instant these days, with texting, facebook, email and twitter it’s refreshing to get back to a more traditional form.


Book #240 of 2014


Between Us is book #86 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014



2 responses to “Review: Between Us (Women Of Letters) – Created by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire

  1. Deborah says:

    I’ve seen this book advertised and wondered what it was about. (I thought I had something similar from a few years ago!)

    I NEVER handwrite letters any more. A few years ago I tried to handwrite some Christmas cards and I kept making extra loops on letters!!!

    • When I was in high school, I used to write my own stories….filling exercise books with hundreds of pages of writing! Now I’m flat out signing my own name, I type everything! I’ve tried to get back to writing a bit more, have to re-train my hand not to cramp up after 10 words.

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