I requested with great joy weeks ago A Web of Friendship By Christina Stead. The book has been published this February 27th by Melbourne University Publishing.
Introduction by Hilary McPhee, what a precious book is this one if you love Christina Stead, one of the most important Australian's writers and wife of William Blake, or just the epistolary genre.
Reading the letters written by Christina Stead, through 1928 to 1973 so a large period of time in which a lot of things happened in her life, she married William Blake, she left Australia for Europe and America, she published various books, we will discover a beautiful soul. Christina loved to receive and write letters, and truly appreciated to keep contacts alive with long and very felt letters.
What I loved the most reading them was the naturalness of her writing-style, most conversationalist than literary and the lightness of her words.
To her writing a letter a real pleasure, because the other one was a gift and you feel it with intensity.
At the same time she is not pompous, but domestic, I would say and also when she speaks of her books, publications, theater etc, there is great lightness, sincerity, optimism, simplicity.
She was a real lady, relaxed, optimistic, joyous. A picked up one of the first letters after the departure of her beloved husband at the beginning of 1968 for giving to you an idea of who Christina Stead was and who William Blake was for her.
She writes to Kate Stead on 10th February 1968:
thank you for your letter, so sensitive and discreet...
My time is fully taken up -first with business and correspondence- and after that with fatigue. I think of Billy as little as possible; I do not want to be full of tears; it is not possible with all I have to do- and what is more my life with Bill, so close, was in a way not sentimental, it was a true thing. When all this is over, I shall be able to think about it, as he was, as I was, and as we made each other to be. He was very loving to me, and I was extraordinarily lucky, I know, to have found a man like that. No more of this now."...
You will discover the letters Christina Stead sent to other important writers like Stanley Burnshaw, Ettore Rella, Nettie Palmer, Clem Christesen, Elizabeth Harrower and A.D. Hope but the most important you will discover a beautiful soul and that was what I appreciated the most, someone encouraging with others, opened, available, gentle and kind.
After the death of her husband, Christina Stead returned to Australia, choosing to spend her final years in England where she died in early 1980.
In a historical moment where our communication is based in few words and where words are used differently and are less precious and more opened to be seen and read by everyone this book will let you re-discover the old-fashioned power of letters.
I highly recommend to everyone this book. It is joyous, human and true.
I love the cover of the book read with the yellow signature of the writer.
I thank NetGalley and Melbourne University Publishing for this book.
Anna Maria Polidori