A Web of Friendship Selected Letters (1928-1973) by Christina Stead

A character in a story by Jame's Joyce wanted 'real adventures'.  He reflected that real adventures 'do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad'.  Christina Stead, an ambitious young writer, also went abroad in search of adventures that couldn't be found in the provincial Australia of the 20s, although she longed to come back when she was older.

She writes luminious letters full of life about her adventures in Europe and America, which are full of life and discuss almost everything under the sun, including her impressions of London, Paris and New York, philosophy, politics and books.  In one letter she relates a dinner in Paris with a Serbian anarchist poet hailed by Picasso and an Emir, the head of a famous Arabian family, people she would not be likely to meet in Sydney.

I like her descriptions of the sights and the food the best, however.  Even though she dislikes London, she still writes about the squares in autumn in an almost loving way.  She loves the 'millions of light fluttering leaves --limes, plane-trees and beeches'.  She recounts the food and drink that she buys in Paris which includes unsalted butter, Russian herrings and halva and cheap white Burgundy wine.

She also writes about life with her gentlemanly husband, an American Marxist financier - a rather strange combination - and the books she is writing.  I haven't read any of Christina Stead's books, partly because some of them sounded pretty depressing.  However, if the books are better than these letters, I will put them on my TBR list!

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

EDITION  Paperback
ISBN         9780522862041
PRICE      $24.99 (AUD)


Hels said…
In A Web of Friendship, the selected letters are very important. Judah Waten was my mum's first cousin and Henry Handel Richardson was easy to read. But Christina Stead's contribution to Australian and world literature has become much clearer only AFTER she died.

Thanks for the link
Viola said…
You certainly have illustrious relations, Hels. Judah Waten's novels also look very interesting.

Henry Handel Richardson is a wonderful author, I think, but I did get into trouble at university when I thought that a couple of girls in one of her stories were like sisters but they had a big crush on each other! Luckily, the class didn't know about it - only the lecturer.

I will try Stead's For Love Alone first, I think. It sounds like my kind of book. I read this article about Letty Fox:https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2008/dec/08/virago-modern-classics-letty-fox. I don't think that it will be on my TBR list.

Thank you very much for the link to your blog post. I will read it today.

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