Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Favorite Reads #4: DEAR EXILE by Hilary Lifton and Kate Montgomery

Alyce of At Home with Books hosts My Favorite Reads, a weekly feature spotlighting favorite reads from pre-blogging days. Because it's been a while since the books were read, these posts are not reviews per se, but rather impressionistic remembrances of a positive reading experience. I think of this feature as an opportunity to more deeply explore the range of my reading interests and those of other book bloggers and readers of book blogs outside of the current crop of new releases.

Do you have an old favorite that you'd like to share?

DEAR EXILE: The True Story of Two Friends Separated (for a year) by the Ocean
by Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Pub. Date: April 1999
ISBN-13: 9780375703676
Sales Rank: 148,254

Description (from the publisher):
A funny and moving story told through the letters of two women nurturing a friendship as they are separated by distance, experience, and time.

Close friends and former college roommates, Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery promised to write when Kate's Peace Corps assignment took her to Africa. Over the course of a single year, they exchanged an offbeat and moving series of letters from rural Kenya to New York City and back again.

Kate, an idealistic teacher, meets unexpected realities ranging from poisonous snakes and vengeful cows to more serious hazards: a lack of money for education; a student body in revolt. Hilary, braving the singles scene in Manhattan, confronts her own realities, from unworthy suitors to job anxiety and first apartment woes. Their correspondence tells--with humor, warmth, and vivid personal detail--the story of two young women navigating their twenties in very different ways, and of the very special friendships we are sometimes lucky enough to find.

Why I chose this book:
When this book was published in 1999, letter writing was already a dying art. And when the letters themselves were written (I believe 1991-92), we weren't using email to communicate on a daily basis, much less IMing or Twittering every other minute. This collection was remarkable for its time and remains an extraordinarily interesting window into the lives of two articulate and adventuresome young women as they first make their way out into the world. I wanted to be both Hilary and Kate - and I could pretend I was the whole time I was reading this book. If you enjoyed the novel
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY or the real-life exchange of letters collected in 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD, consider this collection of letters from two women of more recent vintage.

Read an excerpt.

There's an interesting interview with the two authors on ReadingGroupGuides.

Click here to read the publisher's more detailed description of the book as well as the reader's guide.


bermudaonion said...

Oh, I think that sounds wonderful! It makes me sad to think the art of letter writing has died. I'm adding this to my wish list.

Cathy said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I haven't read this or the others you mention, I guess it is time to expand my horizons a bit.

Kim said...

I love epistolary books! Thanks for sharing this one with us--I am so going to look for it. And you MUST read Persian Pickle Club-I think you will like it!

Sheila DeChantal said...

This sounds really good. I love reading about women and friendships.

Zibilee said...

This sounds good, and I do enjoy epistolary books. I hadn't heard of this one, but now I will have to check it out. Thanks!