Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks

Foreign Correspondence

As a young girl in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longed to discover the places where history happens and culture comes from, so she enlisted pen pals who offered her a window on adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. Twenty years later Brooks, an award-winning foreign correspondent, embarked on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends. She found men and women whose lives had been shaped by ...

Details Foreign Correspondence

TitleForeign Correspondence
Release DateJan 19th, 1999
PublisherAnchor Books
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Travel, Cultural, Australia, Biography

Reviews Foreign Correspondence

  • Brina
    Foreign Correspondence was my first Geraldine Brooks book, and I immediately fell in love with the writing style that earned her a Pulitzer Prize for March and People of the Book. In this 200 page packed memoir, Brooks writes about growing up in Sydney, Australia and how having pen pals both local and international shaped her view of the world. She writes that hers was the last generation to live in an isolated Australia. Everyone finished univer...
  • Phrynne
    I am gradually coming round to accepting the fact that memoirs are not my thing. Even when written by Geraldine Brookswho is one of my favourite authors - of fiction! Sadly I found this book to be quite uninteresting. I would have liked more of the authors experiences as a foreign correspondent and less about her pen pals who were not a very exciting bunch really. My fault for reading a memoir when I know I don't like them. I'll go back to sticki...
  • Jeanette
    In Foreign Correspondence Geraldine Brooks reflects on her seemingly bland Sydney childhood enlivened by correspondence with her exotic pen pals - in a more exciting part of Sydney and in the USA, Israel and France. Years later, she catches up with her former pen pals and their families, after her own exciting career as a foreign correspondent, marriage and motherhood, and her move to the States. Brooks uses her past childhood correspondence and ...
  • Carin
    When you read a book by Geraldine Brooks, you know you are in the hands of a master. In Foreign Correspondence, she not only gives a typical memoir, but she adds the twist of looking up her childhood penpals. Most memoirs with a twist or angle, really feel forced, but Ms. Brooks's does not. Largely because of how important her pen pals were in her childhood.While growing up in staid suburban Sydney, Geraldine felt closed-in, restricted, and borin...
  • Amy
    As a long time pen-pal, I was excited for this one. The storyline was a bit scattershot, vacillating between current and past, with a strange tie in to her father's illness and references to his pen-pals that didnt quite jive when, at the end, the truth all came out. (Her father's illness is the catalyst for her seeking the past it seems, when she finds old letters in the basement).I have to admit that it seems far fetched that this one girl from...
  • Lyn Elliott
    It took me a while to get into this book, as it felt like another exploration of early life with parents, who were my parents etc, and it comes nowhere near the richness of Poppy in that regard. But once Brooks got on to writing about penfriends, and especially her journeys as an adult to meet the people with whom she corresponded as a child and teenager, the book took off for me. Lively and astute; interesting people and observations on Australi...
  • Grada (BoekenTrol)
    The first part was nice, but rather hard to plunge into. I would want to compare it to a steam engine that needs time to gain speed. Geraldine describes her youth, the dull (in her eyes) world of Sydney, at the end of the world.When Geraldine grew older, her world grows and her writing takes the reader along. Finding friends to write to, growing up, go to work and finally going to look for the pals she wrote to in her youth. The more pages I trun...
  • Eva
    This was an amazing tale of growing up as an Australian baby boomer, seeing the world through the eyes of her pen pals. I enjoyed her descriptions of how Australia changed during the 60's and 70's. How it grew from an English outpost to a country of its own, with pride in its culture, art and literature.Brooks is a vivid narrator. As she travels to the homes of her childhood pen pals, you're in the vehicle with her. You feel her anticipation as s...
  • Kirsten
    I was recommending this book before I was half way through I was so captivated. There's something about the yearning of a young girl, wanting to break out, explore, described with love and care by the adult version. I loved the pen pal journeys, loved the family relations, as well as getting an insight into Australia in the '60s and onwards. It was beautiful to see Geraldine's journey regarding her own viewpoints, challenged by the range of pen p...
  • Sabine
    I really liked "Year of Wonders" and had high hopes for this book. You'd think that a book titled "Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over" would be centered around exactly this - penpalling. Unfortunately, penpalling plays just a side-note to the author's reminiscences of her parents, her childhood and teenager years in an unspectacular Sydney neighborhood, and finally her travels as a journalist. The first part o...
  • Theresa
    When I was a child, I had pen pals. My mother always warned me that one day one of them would show up at our door. That didn't happen. Geraldine Brooks, though, goes in search of her pen pals years after the letters stopped coming. As a girl she had imagined warriors and utopians, Broadway stars and astronauts, culture mavens and adventurers. What she finds is something quite different. And in the process she reveals the influences that shaped he...
  • Jessie Weaver
    I’ve now read all of Brooks’ books except for Nine Parts of Desire … and I have loved every one. This one is a memoir of Brooks’ growing-up years, told through pen-pal letters and friendships with kids all over the world. As an adult, Brooks found the letters and took it upon herself to find all of her lost pen-pals. As with all of her books, this one is well-researched and documented, vivid, and makes me long to see, smell, and taste eac...
  • Jennifer
    This book is so much more than simply a story about penfriends - Brooks weaves her personal narrative and childhood obsessions in with her story, to show why she sought the particular penpals she wrote to. I enjoyed reading this a lot and it makes me want to pull out the stationery and write to my friends once again - a feeling I haven't had in a while.
  • Erin Janda
    Having grown up with a few pen pals of my own, this book was dear to me. I love the way Brooks tells her memoir. It is absolutely beautiful.
  • Jeanine
    Loved. What a gem. Transporting. Enlightening. Provocative. Wise. And in the end, truly delightful. Geraldine Brooks is a true craftsman of the written word.
  • Jessica
    I really like Geraldine Brooks's historical fiction. After reading all four of her works of fiction, I found myself becoming more curious about her background as a foreign correspondent. This work of nonfiction combined snippets of information on her career with biographical information and stories of her international pen pals. She deftly captured what is was like to grow up in 1960s and 1970s Australia and how this impacted her intellectual and...
  • Susan
    This is a compelling, wonderful memoir. As an adolescent in suburban Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks began a life-long fascination with other cultures and people across the world. To quench her curiosity and expand her horizons, she corresponded with pen-pals in the Middle East, Europe, and America. Then, twenty years later, after Brooks had worked as a reporter for the The Sydney Morning Herald,, had completed a masters in journalism on scho...
  • Janet
    In Geraldine Brooks' memoir, she recounts her childhood in 1950's/60's Sydney, Australia. At that time she felt very isolated from the world and wanted to meet new people and learn about other cultures. She takes up writing to pen-pals in far away countries. When she became an adult and started working she found that she didn't have much to write letters and lost touch with her pen-pals. Many years later she finds the old letters and decides to t...
  • Dianne
    Geraldine Brooks is one of my favorite authors, so when I stumbled over this one by her that I had somehow missed, I was thrilled. It is a memoir of her 1950s and 60s childhood in Australia, where she and her family lived in a couple of suburbs on the western edge of Sydney, definitely not a fashionable address. She decides to seek out pen pals in far-flung places in order to discover how others her age are living around the world, and this key e...
  • Deborah aka Reading Mom
    Great book. I don't always enjoy memoirs, but I have liked Geraldine Brooks as a writer for many years and thought this might be a nice read. It was. I liked getting to know her better as a person and she wrote with the usual attention to detail that she does with her fiction writing. The descriptions of places she visited to get in touch with her now adult pen pals made me feel as though I was traveling with her, especially her descriptions of I...
  • Beatrixe
    Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoyable and relatable. As someone who enjoys writing letters, this story has made me want to find pen pals from faraway and remote places.The author has led an interesting life, and the sections about her travels to war torn and famine afflicted counties during her stint as a foreign correspondence were really interesting. Her journey to find her pen pals from over twenty years ago was an incredible feat, but consider...
  • Jenny
    This book made me think about my penpals from childhood. I had a penpal from France when I was 13. Even though it was only 17 years ago, I can still remember how far away and unknowable she seemed. I still remember the graphing paper she wrote on and her (what I now know to be) distinctly French handwriting. I wonder if this book will hold up. It seems like the world has grown so much smaller since the internet became what it now is. I don't thin...
  • Emily Blodgett
    A wonderful autobiography from one of my favorite authors. Brooks tells her story through her delight in collecting and writing to her pen pals-- her way of learning about the world from what she thinks is a boring backwater in suburban Sydney. She uses her platform as a journalist later in life to track down those very people who opened her eyes as a teenager. I mourn the loss of real letter writing and receiving in my life!
  • Vivien Simon
    great writerWhen I bought this book, it did not immediately imply to me that it was biographical. Just because it was by Geraldine Brooks, simply I bought it. This was a most surprising and enjoyable biography. Glad to have read it, this story reaffirmed how much pleasure this talented and clever writer seems to provide me with. If you like biographies, this is a charming view of a talented author's life. Highly recommended.
  • Marguerite
    Geraldine Brooks uses a lovely framework for her memoir. She looks back to a time when she was a pen pal to a number of contemporaries around the world, a time she also sought a bigger world for herself. After a career as a reporter and war correspondent, she revisits the long-distance acquaintances. What results is a thoughtful reverie on place, family, ambition and contentment. A nice change of pace in the genre. It makes me wonder what kind of...
  • Leypeople
    This book does not get a lot of press compared to Brook's other books. Underrated!! I found it fun, insightful, deep, yet entertaining. As a woman who has lived on 4 different continents (me!), it really has a distinctive "worldy flavor" to it as Brooks insightfully peers into other cultures.I LOVE it when I find a hidden gem such as this! Highly recommend!
  • Liz
    What a great premise for a book - following up pen pals from across the world 30 years on. Loved how so many elements were woven in - life choices, closed in world of growing up in the burbs in Sydney in the 60s, the great flight of Australians to Europe and the US. Very rich book, part biography, part travelogue, part political history!
  • Lisa
    I love Geraldine Brooks as an author and I enjoyed her memoir about growing up in Australia and her relationship with her family and her pen pals. It was a quick and mostly interesting read. It is fascinating for me to read an author for years without knowing much about them and discover a book like this that tells her story.
  • Maureen
    Having had pen pals as a young girl, I could relate a lot to this story. I've lost track of all of mine but the author does a great job in telling how she grew and how she learned from each of her pen friends.
  • Stephanie Dahlberg
    A very enjoyable story that is presented in a unique format. I gained a lot of insight into a time and a place where I've never been. The premise appealed to me since I am someone who also looks back at relationships and is loathe to get go of them.