Book Review: Women of Letters curated by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire

By Jodi Wiley

This anthology sprung from the famed Women of Letters salon events created by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire where women of note (and some gentlemen too) 'revive the lost art of correspondence' by reading out their self-penned letters to a rapt audience. The concept is an appealing one - oh, I do love letters! - and it translates beautifully to the page.

Letters here are used as a clever device to tell a short tale about life, love, family and in some cases, hideously embarrassing situations. The letters are organised by theme: 'To the night I'd rather forget', 'To my first boss,' 'To my turning point' and are penned by a range of wise, clever, funny and talented correspondents.

Some of the star-studded line-up include: Tara Moss, Claudia Karvan, Noni Hazlehurst, Joan Kirner, Judith Lucy and Catherine Deveny. And the menfolk: Paul Kelly, John Safran, Eddie Perfect and Dave Graney among others.

I laughed out loud at Cal Wilson's tale of humiliating herself at a work function after having a few too many and was moved by Helen Garner’s sparse, perfectly worded letters to a range of seemingly random people from the past. Missy Higgins’ tale of her turning point is illuminating and Tim Rogers’ letter to ‘the woman who changed my life’ made me catch my breath.

These short pieces make engaging epistolary reading at a length that's perfect for the poolside these holidays. There's a new one out this year too titled Sincerely which I’m yet to acquire but it promises to be just as juicy, honest, funny and entertaining as the first.

Hmm, I know what I’ll be putting on my Christmas list...

Women of Letters and Sincerely are published by Penguin Books. Royalties go to Edgar’s Mission animal rescue shelter.

Jodi Wiley is an artist, writer, teacher and blogger. She has written freelance articles and book reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as education curriculum. She has won awards for her artwork and been a finalist for several art and illustration prizes. Visit Jodi’s blog: