Do you have a favorite word? I have several. I love the word viscosity (especially when it refers to chocolate milkshakes). I also love the word epistolary. It means “related to the writing of letters.” When paired with novels – “epistolary novels,” it means that the novel is written in letters. As an avid letter-writer myself these books appeal greatly to me. The definition of an epistolary novel can be stretched to include books where the “letters” are diary entries or text messages between friends or letters never sent. Check out my video on correspondence here for inspiration to write your own letters and check out some of my favorite epistolary novels here!
The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is probably one of the best-known epistolary novels and I resisted reading it for quite some time because it was so popular. I don’t know why because it was charming, and I LOVED it. The movie version is excellent as well!
You have to say the title of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn out loud to get it and how it works in this sweet book about a community, the alphabet, and how their lives are affected by it. This would be a great read for teens, also.
A great way to introduce younger children to letter writing is through Alma Flor Ada’s sweet books where classic characters write to one another. Check out Yours Truly, Goldilocks to start.
I happened upon Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Eleanor Pruitt Steward while looking for books that could be read on KPBX’s Bookshelf program. This fascinating account of a woman’s time in Wyoming in 1909 opens a window to a world so different than today’s one of convenience and comfort! Check out a copy or listen to the reading on KPBX.
I read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff in one sitting not because it’s short but because I was so charmed by the characters in this actual correspondence between a writer in NY and the staff of a London bookshop over the course of 40 years.
What’s next for you? Writing some letters or reading some letters? Do you have any great epistolary novels to recommend?
Tags: correspondence, epistolary fiction, letters