Saturday, July 18, 2009

Epistolary Novels

Having recently read both The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer and Barrows) and 84, Charing Cross Road (Hanff)--both excellent books; I highly recommend them!--I got to thinking about books written in letters, as both of these are. It wasn't hard to think of several more, for all ages.

For teens there is Daddy Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. I reviewed this one once before, so you can read more about it here. Then there is Karen Hesse's Letters from Rifka, about a twelve-year-old girl fleeing Russia with her family in 1919. Rifka knows that her letters will never reach her cousin, whom she is writing to, so this book is more like a diary than a true epistolary novel, but I thought it worth including here anyway. And for a more modern version of the epistolary style, there is the TTYL series by Lauren Myracle. These books (TTYL, TTFN, and L8R G8R) are written entirely as a series of instant message conversations between three teen girls.

There are a few selections for middle-grade readers, as well, including P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More, both by Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin; Dear Mr. Henshaw, the Newbery winner by Beverly Cleary; and the Regarding the... series by Kate Klise. The latter is a little different in that the books include things like newspaper clippings among the letters.

And lastly, I even found an epistolary picture book--two, actually: Dear Mrs. LaRue and LaRue for Mayor, by Mark Teague, which are composed of letters from a dog to his owner.

I'm sure there are more--let me know if you've read others! I love to write letters, which is probably why these books have such appeal for me; I'm dreaming of the day when I can exchange long, witty letters with anonymous Englishmen who send me books and invite me to visit their country and stay with their family or the old woman next door. A girl can dream, right?

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