The AttachmentAilsa Piper
7 February 2019
Published by Allen & Unwin
Dear Ailsa, Sometimes I wonder whether the friendship that has caught us both – a most unlikely friendship I must confess – might find an echo in a far off Irish village somewhere in the wild, windy hills of old Donegal. Or am I allowing that uncontrollable imagination of mine too much slack?
This is the story of an unlikely friendship.
When priest and Sydneysider Tony Doherty emailed Melbourne-based writer and performer Ailsa Piper to say how much he had enjoyed her latest book, he was met with a swift reply from a similarly enquiring mind. Soon emails were flying back and forth and back again. They exchanged stories of their experiences as sweaty pilgrims and dissected dinner party menus. They shared their delight in Mary Oliver’s poetry and wrestled with what it means to love and to grieve. This energetic exchange of words, questions and ideas grew into an unexpected but treasured friendship.
Collected here is that correspondence, brimming with empathy, humour and a fierce curiosity about each other and the worlds, shoes and histories that they inhabit. Described by one reader as ‘a demonstration of how to have a conversation and a friendship’, The Attachment is an intriguing, entertaining and moving celebration of family, faith, connection – even the correct time of day to enjoy rhubarb.
Dear Tony, Funny how our ears tune in to things. How our priorities shift based on who and what we know. How we come to care about such abstract or remote things through the experience of another. Lovely, somehow, but so serendipitous. All the other things we might care about. All that we might have missed had we not stopped to care for this person. I’m glad we stopped for each other.