Old Books, New Readers discussion

245 views
Individual Books > Epistolary Novels (books written in the form of letters)

Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)    post a comment »
dateDown_arrow    newest »

Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments I hope I have this in the right forum- otherwise, my apologies! And ye Powers That Be may fall upon my post with any wrath or post moving that you see fit.
My question revolves around this: I just finished rereading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book, and it made me want more like it. For instance, I enjoyed Ella Minnow Pea, and I might reread that one soon. I started thinking about books in this format- I discovered 84 Charing Cross and now have that coming in the mail. What others are there? What old classics are there? I kind of place Dracula in this format, even tho it's more journals, but it has letters, too, if I remember. Can you help me out? I'm craving novels in letter format, with a flair for history. If it's a feel good book all the better to lift my spirits. The history is more important than the feel good. Letters trump other considerations. Thanks!


Haley | 707 comments I'm going to move the folder this topic is in, but the topic is a great one! :D


Tabi {Sherlockian} Card  (FeyGurl) Great discussion starter Lora....there's one that I can think of right now, and that's the Hound of the Baskervilles by A.Conon Doyle. It's written as Doctor Watson writing letters to Sherlock Holmes on his investigation of the case.


Talia (taliafrench) I love 84 Charing Cross Road. You're in for a real treat! Frankenstein was also written in the letter format. I may be mistaken, but I also think that Gulliver's Travellers also used letters for the story.


Tabi {Sherlockian} Card  (FeyGurl) No, Gulliver's Travels were not written in letter form. More like journal form.


Talia (taliafrench) Yeah, I couldn't remember completely. I just knew it was along those lines.


Haley | 707 comments I read Frankenstein last year, and I don't remember it being in letter form. It was kind of a narrator within a narrator within a narrator, wasn't it? I suppose Narrator One might have been writing a letter... Maybe I'm wrong. It doesn't read like a bunch of letters or a journal, though.


Tabi {Sherlockian} Card  (FeyGurl) Yeah... a bunch of people telling the story, like the author was writing a letter about someone she'd heard about...I think?


Talia (taliafrench) Frankenstein was a series of letters from the captain of the ship to his sister, telling her what Victor Frankenstein had told him.


Tabi {Sherlockian} Card  (FeyGurl) Ah yes, and I forget but was it written as the author read them? It's been a few years since I read that.


Varsha (varsha765) | 46 comments The Diary of A Young Girl. I know its not in the letter format...but its quite a good read. :) Especially in the history department.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments I just thought of another one I read- The Historian. Was that letters?


Haley | 707 comments Talia wrote: "Frankenstein was a series of letters from the captain of the ship to his sister, telling her what Victor Frankenstein had told him."

Well, I didn't remember that! So Lora, apparently Frankenstein is a series of letters (thanks Talia :D) but it doesn't read much like letters. Or I don't think it did.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments It's been deacdes since I read Frankenstein. I only remembered the captain telling the story as it had been told him. I think I'll have to go reread that one.


Emi I'm reading a book now in letter form. It's called Evelina: or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, by Frances Burney. I really like the book

Lora, The Historian sort of is... btw LOVE that book!!


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Emi,
Does that book have an Austen kind of feel to it? By that I mean the wit and candor. It seems like it would. What do you think of it so far?


Peter | 50 comments It's a while since I read it, but I think Dracula is also an epistolary novel. I could be wrong.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Yes, Dracula has letters, and journal entries. Journals almost feel like letters to me, because they are addressed to someone of some sort, and they have that personal feel that letters do.


Susan | 2 comments I read two books by Jean Webster, "Daddy Long-legs" and "Dear Enemy", both written in epistolary format. I liked them both.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Thanks, Susan. I've been drawing up an epistolary book list thanks to you and Emi and others. Are both those books by the same author?


message 21: by Susan (last edited May 11, 2012 04:52AM) (new)

Susan | 2 comments Lora wrote: "Thanks, Susan. I've been drawing up an epistolary book list thanks to you and Emi and others. Are both those books by the same author?"

Yes, they are. Both can be found on goodreads.


Petra We Need to Talk About Kevin is also an epistolary novel. I haven't read it yet so can't comment on it.

Goodreads has this list, which may help you find some books you'll enjoy:
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/30...


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments That is one hefty list for me to look through! Thanks!


Thom Swennes (Yorrick) | 11 comments The Petticoat Commando by Johanna BrandtThe Petticoat Commando

Extremely moving! Petticoat Commando by Johanna Brandt is a moving account of a little known or publicized war that took place squarely between two well known and publicized wars. The American Civil War (Sherman’s march to the sea, to be more explicit) was mimicked by British troops during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Most of this conflict saw the Boer troops applying guerrilla tactics against the vastly superior British forces. These marauding farmers were supplied and aided by civilians, in towns, cities and in rural areas of South Africa. Lord Kitchener, realizing that this situation could prolong the war indefinitely, ordered his troops to confiscate burn and destroy all farms and produce that could possibly aid the rebel forces. The inhabitants of these farms, mostly women and children, were relocated and put in concentration camps in inhumane, overcrowded, dirty and deadly conditions. Non-combatants (women and children) died by the thousands from starvation and disease in these relocation camps. Nazi Germany used these same tactics forty years later. The thought arises why one has been so vocally condemned where as the former was passively accepted. I don’t condone either and find both repulsive.
The title, Petticoat Commando, is rather misleading as the account is about underground activities behind the scenes of all of the fighting. Little is mentioned of the military aspects of the conflict and nothing is written as to the causes and political differences leading up to it. There is no doubt as to the commitment of both sides to fight to the death for their beliefs. The dedication, daring and bravery of the Boer women surpass many of their fighting men. Relations with the original native population are not mentioned and only one example of their “apartheid” policies is recorded. This is rightly a tribute to human commitment to a cause and is very inspiring. I would recommend it to everyone.


Lauren | 1 comments Dangerous Liaisons by Laclos is another epistolary classic.


Talia (taliafrench) While the book doesn't start out as a letter, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall ends up being mostly letters written by Helen Graham telling about how she ended up at Wildfell Hall. Her letters get a little tedious at the end, though.


Brenda Clough (BrendaClough) | 203 comments DRACULA is famously epistolatory. It was a popular form in Victorian times. Another very famous epistolatory novel is THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER (just now out as an opera!), which is letters from Werther to a pal in another town. It was so popular that people imitated Werther by committing suicide. (Surely this is not a spoiler!) There is a website somewhere, where you can sign up to get the novel in email form, one letter a day. And it is so popular that people write back to Werther, urging him to get Zoloft or Xanax.


Brenda Clough (BrendaClough) | 203 comments If you broaden the form out into books in report format, then you must take in the works of Wilkie Collins. THE MOONSTONE and THE WOMAN IN WHITE are total masterworks.


Erin I can only think of one: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

It's a series of letters written from an 'uncle demon' (Screwtape) to his 'nephew demon' (Wormwood). Wormwood's uncle is giving him advice on how to tempt his 'human' and make sure that the human's soul is destined for hell.

I guess it can be somewhat of a 'religious' book, so if you want to stay away from it, I understand. But I think it's interesting even if you're not 'Christian.'

(Wow, a lot of quotation marks.. sorry!)


Erin van Moer (erinvanmoer) | 13 comments Brenda wrote: "DRACULA is famously epistolatory. It was a popular form in Victorian times. Another very famous epistolatory novel is THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER (just now out as an opera!), which is letters fr..."

i was thinking of the same thing.

The historian is also partly told in letters.


Laila (AKA LunaBelle) (Lunaluss) There's also Angle of Repose.


Thom Swennes (Yorrick) | 11 comments I am presently muddling through Dracula by Bram Stoker by Bram Stoker and must confess that it is nothing like the old movies that kept me up at night.


Ivan Lora wrote: "I hope I have this in the right forum- otherwise, my apologies! And ye Powers That Be may fall upon my post with any wrath or post moving that you see fit.
My question revolves around this: I just ..."


Lora - I loved
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and 84, Charing Cross Road is my favorite of all-time [The Novella Club will be reading it as a group in June, please join the group and the discussion].

Now, I'm trying to think (without Google) and one epistolary novel that comes to mind is The Color Purple - which I read when it first came out and have fond memories of.


Tabi {Sherlockian} Card  (FeyGurl) Thom wrote: "I am presently muddling through Dracula by Bram Stoker by Bram Stoker and must confess that it is nothing like the old movies that kept me up at night."

I know, I started Dracula with the impression that it was going to be some scary horror book...but I was surprised that it wasn't. It's not at all like the scary book I thought it was...or how the movies portray it. ;)


Brenda Clough (BrendaClough) | 203 comments As you might expect, the movie makers took only the exciting and gory bits from DRACULA, and left all the boring stuff out. After they add another batch of extra excitement, SFX and gore, there is not much resemblance left between the book and the movies.

Ah! Another epistolatory set of vampire novels are the works of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. The first in the series is HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA I think -- it is told in the form of letters/instructions. I am not sure she stuck to the format (which is very limiting) in later volumes.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Erin, I should have thought of Screwtape Letters, I have it on my shelf! I'm looking into the rest as a book list for the summer- I can go epistolizing all summer long!
The Color Purple keeps coming up, and The Woman in White (I confess- I have never read Collins!).
I was pretty surprised by how Frankenstein went as well- I had read Dracula as a child, but didn't get to Frankenstein until high school. It really is very different from the movies, just like Dracula. Well, honestly, just like most books and their movie counterparts.
Ivan, I will seriously consider the reading group for June. I ordered 84 Charing Cross about a week ago (?)...and it hasn't arrived as yet. My mood may swing! Then what?? I guess I'll have to keep going through all the murder mysteries stacking up on my cabinet.
Brenda, the series you mention appeals to my letter mood and my taste for vampires who do not sparkle. I'm going to go check that out as well.
Thanks, everyone! I'm writing them down as we go.


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Another comment: Dracula and Frankenstein both get so little respect! They really are decent books. When I chose Frankenstein as my high school research project (decades ago, a-hem), my teacher didn't want to approve it. It was because she was familiar with the great old Boris Karloff movies, and not the actual book. I kind of enjoyed introducing her to it.
And I like the iconic old B&W horror movies, too.


Erin van Moer (erinvanmoer) | 13 comments Lora wrote: "Another comment: Dracula and Frankenstein both get so little respect! They really are decent books. When I chose Frankenstein as my high school research project (decades ago, a-hem), my teacher did..."

This is so true!!!


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Oops, I'm clumsy online- Ivan, can you help me find the group that will be reading 84 Charing Cross in June? A novella group...?


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments Nevermind- I figured it out pretty quickly after all. :)


Lora (lorabanora) | 202 comments I just read another epistolary book and thought I'd mention it on this dead thread. It's Sorcery and Cecelia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. It's mainly YA, but it was a fun book of letters and magic. It had quite a tone of Austen with a sprinkling of Bronte.


Diana S | 2 comments Two more are:
When Washington Was in Vogue  A Love Story by Edward Christopher Williams When Washington Was in Vogue: A Love Story by Edward Christoper Williams.
Which I'm currently reading. Its Wonderful!

and
'Tis The Season  A novel by Lorna Landvik 'Tis The Season: A novel by Lorna Landvik. Which I read last year. Funny! And a show of the changing times. Most of it is done in emails.
So sad that letter writing is now considered "nostalgia". School children everywhere are now being taught to write in "print only" and how to write a proper email. So long, "long-hand". :(


Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) Another epistolary book- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.


Leanna (Leajoy) | 23 comments I'm surprised no one's mentioned Austen's Lady Susan! It's really good, and so funny in that no matter how hard I tried to like the title character, I had to admit she was a terrible person. But the title character is hilarious, it's so funny, and with it being Austen, it's so well done!


message 45: by Christa - Ron Paul 2016, Beware the Leopard (new)

Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) | 3119 comments Mod
You know, I have never even heard of that one. I am going to look for it right now.


back to top