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 An evocative, superbly written tale of a woman's journey to self-understanding. To young Aussie Brooks, the name of the street on which she lives, Bland Street, says it all. Bright and restless, she yearns for far more exciting, cosmopolitan venues than what she considers the backwater city of Sydney. And so Brooks tries to alleviate her intense wanderlust by gathering pen pals from around the world. Through them she figures she can live vicariously until she's old enough to leave this pit-stop of a country. In due course, she writes to Joannie, an American who summers in Switzerland and Martha's Vineyard; to Janine, a French girl whose provincial life surprises Brooks the adolescent but becomes an object of envy for Brooks the adult; Cohen, an Israeli teen who satisfies Brooks's fascination with the Jewish faith; and motley others. At length, Brooks (Nine Parts of Desire, 1995) does indeed find a way to live out her dream. An award-winning Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent, she becomes the paper's ``fireman,'' a moniker given to reporters who are able to cover particularly difficult situations and topics. Five wars and thousands of frequent-flier miles later, Brooks finds herself back in Sydney, in midlife going through family artifacts as she awaits her father's death. She comes across a bundle of old letters from her pen pals and decides to track them down. Foreign Correspondence is the story of Brooks's quest and her coming of age in the '60s and '70s. Alternately stirring and humorous, it offers an incisive emotional and spiritual travelogue, as well as the chronicle of an era. Particularly poignant are the sections devoted to Joannie, Brooks's alter ego, who dies an early death from anorexia. Brooks discovers what many of us learn only as we age--that there's no place like home. (8 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-48269-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1997


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