Eleven Letters to You
Helen Elliott’s Eleven Letters to You is a profoundly original memoir, an intimate account of growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne in the fifties and sixties, before feminism.
This sparkling, wonderfully absorbing book is written in the form of eleven letters to those neighbours, relatives, friends, teachers and mentors who shaped the young Helen. (It begins in 1950 when she is three and finishes in 1969 when she is twenty-two.) Each of the letters is a homage to the power of memory to recreate life in all its sensuous and indelible detail. And each is a love letter that brings Elliott’s marvellous characters—the Misses Stapley, Lois, Mr Cohen and so on—back to life, along with the lost worlds they inhabit.
Helen Elliott sets out to look for answers to one primary question: how did she become whoever she thought she was. She conducts her search through the lives of others. ‘I am not the centre of this book,’ she says, ‘but the hinge holding it together.’
Her search will mesmerise her readers, because of the power and fluency of her voice, and because the vanished kitchens and gardens and fields and streets she conjures up are so unforgettably drawn.
Eleven Letters for You offers us an immersive and deeply moving reading experience. It will appeal equally to fans of Elena Ferrante and Helen Garner.