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The Telegram by Philippa Werry


NZ Booklovers is such a fan of this book, we have a second review for readers!


The publisher’s claim that this sweet little book will have broad appeal across the ages has been verified in my circle of friends where it has been widely enjoyed.


I confess that I enjoyed it on face value alone, initially not realising that it was intended for a younger audience. I was a few chapters in before I began to feel that the language was deliberately accessible. I reached for the publisher’s notes to confirm my suspicion that I was a tad too ‘mature’ to fit the profile of the target audience.


Later it was among a pile of books I offered for selection to friends both young and old. The two pre-teens had already read it and gave it the thumbs up for enjoyment; while the mature reader returned after being happily engrossed, it with the same results.


There are several reasons this book is enjoyed across the ages. It’s well researched and topical in the lead up to Anzac Day and beyond, as it covers a period of time during WWI when young women between 14 and 16 years of age were conscripted as telegraph messengers.


Fourteen-year-old Beatrice Thomas lives with her widowed mother whose hours at work are cut to accommodate the return of wounded men being reintegrated into society. Beatrice steps up to become a bread-winner, proving that young women can be as adept as young men in the role.


But for Beatrice who relishes the opportunity to help, delivering telegrams which may contain dire news for the recipients is not an easy task. Complicating this is the devastating effect of the influenza epidemic which sees her performing numerous other tasks.


Werry creates a delightful narrative through the eyes of a natural heroine who faces sexism and fears common to young women through the ages as she steps up admirably to serve her community above and beyond expectations.


The Telegram really is an informative, enjoyable and delightful read – for readers of all ages.


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Pipi Press, RRP $23

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