Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Six Women of Letters by Marieke Hardy and Michaela Mcguire

Yesterday I reviewed a Nam Le short story which has recently been reissued as a Penguin Short. Today I am going to talk about another Penguin Short. This time though, rather than a short story, it is a collection of letters from some well known Australian women.

The Women of Letters story began as theatre events. The organisers would ask a selection of women (mostly) to write a letter and then read it out in front of the audience. Much later, the idea was born to collect some of those letters into one volume, called Women of Words, and now six of those letters have been put into one collection and released as a Penguin short.

Whilst I would love to attend a Women of Letters event one day, I am having to substitute with this book for the time being, but I am not complaining! Taken as individual letters, you see the personalities of the letter writers shine through, in some cases humour in others poignancy. As a collection of stories, my taste was definitely piqued and I look forward to getting the full book and reading  more.

I liked all the letters, but if I had to only pick a couple I would say I thoroughly enjoyed singer Kate Miller-Heidke's letter to her twelve year old self, was moved by Helen Garner's letter to an old teacher and reading Ita Buttrose's account of a possible different life for herself was fascinating. Deborah Conway talking about bringing a new member of the family was amusing and also bought back memories of listening to her sing in a club in Adelaide many years ago!

The whole aim of Women of Letters is to remind people of the power of a well crafted letter in this day where most of us communicate in 140 letters or less on Twitter, status updates on Facebook or text messages.

I have one more Short to read, but I am definitely intending to read more. To find out more about Penguin Shorts, visit the Penguin website.


In homage to that most civilised of activities, letter writing, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created the literary afternoons of Women of Letters. Some of Australia's finest dames of stage, screen and page have delivered missives on a series of themes.

Published here for the first time are Deborah Conway writing about the ups and downs of being a dog owner in A Letter to the Best Decision I Ever Made; Ita Buttrose imagining an alternative life as an opera singer in A Letter to the Life I Could Have Lived; Tracee Hutchison writing A Complaint Letter to complaint letters; Pip Lincolne describing a magical childhood afternoon in A Letter to the Moment I Knew it Was Time to Go Home; A Love Letter from Kate Miller-Heidke aged twenty-nine to Kate Miller-Heidke aged twelve; and Helen Garner looking back on a teacher both terrifying and inspiring in A Letter to the Person I Misjudged.

Touching, funny and wise, this brand new collection of letters is a captivating tribute to correspondence.


  1. Replies
    1. It's a lovely way to spend a few minutes.

  2. Can't wait to hear about the next short. I'm hoping it's Shaun Micallef!

    1. Unfortunately not, although I might by that one eventually.

  3. This sounds great. I might add it to my AWW12 challenge list. there is NOTHING like a handwritten letter.