‘Yes, mine is a generation of letter writers.’
Do you remember the joy of writing and receiving handwritten letters? I do. When I moved away from home some 43 years ago, when ‘phone calls were expensive and the internet had not yet been invented, letters were the way I kept in touch with family and friends. Such memories.
These memories, of handwritten letters, are one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. I was curious, too, about the kind of letters our first female Governor-General received and wrote. Quentin Bryce’s letter-writing skills were no doubt further developed as a consequence of boarding school, where writing home was a weekly occupation. But some people are natural letter writers, with a gift for connection and communication. Quentin Bryce seems to be one of these people.
‘I like to think that as my hand holds my pen and moves across the paper, concentration and affection shape the letters, heart and mind blending in an art form as old as time.’
As I read each of the letters included in this collection, I was taken across Australia and around the world. Quentin Bryce handwrote more than fifty letters a week during her six-year term as Governor-General. There are letters to prime ministers Rudd and Gillard, letters to and from friends including Wendy McCarthy and Anne Summers, letters to and from war veterans, Indigenous elders, girl guides and Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC.
The letters I enjoyed most were the ones between Quentin Bryce and various children. In each letter, she seemed to strike just the right (or should that be write?) note. Each response is clearly personal, each observation offered, each question asked is warm but never intrusive. There are lovely colour photographs as well, documenting different aspects of the life of a Governor-General.
This is a lovely book. A keepsake for both those who love letters as well as for those wanting to see a more personal side of our 25th Governor-General.
Royalties from this book will be donated to the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Note: My thanks to Melbourne University Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.