Today, in January Magazine’s biography section, contributing editor Cherie Thiessen reviews A Memoir of Friendship: The Letters Between Carol Shields and Blanche Howard. Says Thiessen:
The two women met at a university women’s club meeting hosted by Shields when both were beginning their writing. Shields was 35 and Blanche, 47.
It was to the older woman that Shields would turn when she needed advice on childrearing, wanted an expert eye to critique her writing, or someone with whom to share books, reflections, experiences and memories. They had much in common: enquiring and critical minds, children, long and successful marriages, a love of travel and a foothold in the Canadian literary scene. They knew many of the same people, had the same literary affiliations, had published books and devoured literature.
The evolution of the correspondence the Howards share with us is an interesting one. It takes us from rambling letters and occasional phone calls in the days when long distance calls were a rare luxury, to the formality of word processing, still sent by snail mail, but slightly differing in tone from the handwritten missive, and eventually to e-mail, with its more casual, emotive intimacy, and to regular phone calls as the rates became cheaper and the friends became wealthier.
The full review is here.