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Dear Fran, Love Dulcie: Life and death in hills and hollows of bygone Australia by Victoria Twead

July 6, 2021

This is one of the most moving books I have read in years. In an astonishing turn of events, Victoria Twead has been able to research the story behind this young Australian woman’s letters to her penpal in America, and to publish them with the full support of the family. Dulcie’s letters to Fran are unique in their depiction of Australian rural life from the 1950s to the 1970s. They reveal the harshness of the land and its merciless demands on those who live and farm it. The weather, the crop failures, the tough conditions for Dulcie and her family are all described with a matter of fact acceptance that is somehow shocking and deeply touching.

However, although there is heartbreak and loss, there is lightness and humour too, as well as a closeness between the two penpals that develops gradually over the years. And it is this closeness that makes the ending all the more heartrending. I feel privileged to have been able to Beta read Dulcie’s letters; it was a truly profound and unforgettable experience and my thanks go to Victoria Twead for transcribing the originals and explaining the background and context of how they came to be published.

This is an important historical document as well as being a fascinating book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The link to the Amazon US site is here

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