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The Lost Art of Letter Writing

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  710 ratings  ·  76 reviews

In a forgotten nook of Cambridge a little shop stands where thousands of sheets of beautiful paper and hundreds of exquisite pens wait for the next person who, with Clara Cohen’s help, will express the love, despair and desire they feel to correspondents alive, estranged or dead. Clara knows better than most the power a letter can have to turn a person’s life around, so wh

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 16th 2017 by Allison & Busby
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Clara owns a magical little shop where people can come in to write letters.
Clara also writes letters herself, to people she doesn't know. She gets inspired and she sits at her grandfather's desk and she is practically overtaken by writing. She somehow says just what the recipient needs to hear.

She writes a letter to Ed who has seen great loss in his life, both his first and second wives died. He is raising his teenager daughter alone and he is floundering.

Ava stops into Clara's shop to write a l
Dale Harcombe
In Cambridge is a little shop that contains thousands of sheets of beautiful pare and many lovely pens. There is also a special desk where people can write a letter. Clara Cohen also writes letters to those who need help. But this is not just Clara’s story. There is the story of Ava who comes into the shop to write a letter, of Ed who receives a letter Clara wrote plus there are letters which Clara finds that tell of a wartime love. As Clara follows the trail of those letters it leads to many ch ...more
Jane Pennington
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
When I first started to read this book I was enchanted. Sadly as the story moved on and the characters began to develop, it all became so un-engaging. There were many characters, many sub-plots and only a flimsy thread to tie them together. This is a well meaning story, with a cast of odd types and general misfits. Some of them are pleasant enough, some are dislikeable. None of it amounted to very much at all.
It was disappointing.
Natalia Iwanyckyj
Beautiful. Magical. Classical Menna van Praag. Delightful stories. Visits from a few characters from Hope Street. Real magic.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charming story well done
Jessica Lewis
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got my hopes up a bit too high on this one based on being a big mail freak, so was disappointed to find that letter writing took a back seat after a strong start and became more of a metaphor. However I still enjoyed the book and the intertwined love stories and the magical realism, and am excited to read the rest of Menna’s books.
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
A nice, pleasant read. A little disjointed maybe and feels like the author is trying to cover too many themes. However, overall, I liked it.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My new favorite Menna van Praag book. Amazingly magical. Full of heart and beautiful characters.
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sweet, cheeky, well-written and insightful novel about love, resilience and self-discovery. The story follows Clara as she sets out on an adventure to reawaken herself and solve a family mystery, helping people along the way with her gift for writing special letters. A great read!
Geoffrey Nutting
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: magic-realism
The opening chapter is great writing introducing you to the shop (The Lost Art Of Letter Writing) and its owner, Clara. Once you've met the main character and the shop, and want to know more, the author doesn't deliver. The rest of the book is about ~8 people, who are not really related to the story. The ending is less than satisfying (doesn't tie everything up well). ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read a few of Menna's books, and each of them were unique in their own way, which is why I always read more of her books! In terms of this particular book, I would have to give it a 3.5 as opposed to a 3, as I enjoyed the book however, not to the point of absolutely loving it. I felt that the book had a great premise of characters, which started by introducing Clara, a woman who owns a letter shop, in which she persuades her customers to write letters to important people in their lives. T ...more
Joana Almeida
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, when I started this book last week I said that it was gonna be a 5⭐️ read for me.... well... it wasn’t... it wasn’t bad either, since I gave it 4⭐️ on Goodreads, but there was some aspects in the book that didn’t worked for me!
The book is sort of divided between the stories of 4 characters: Clara, the owner of the shop called “Letters”, Edward, Finn and then Ava, and how, one way or another, their stories sort of interconnected at some given point.
I really thought that because of the first
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Idle Woman
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Tonight I picked up a novel for the first time in a month – shame on me! I was looking for something undemanding and The Lost Art of Letter Writing seemed a perfect choice for an autumn evening with the nights drawing in. It turned out to be a bit too self-consciously quaint for my taste, but it’s as cosy and feel-good as a page of motivational quotes. It centres on our heroine, Clara, who runs a very special stationer’s shop in Cambridge. Here, customers are invited to write the one heartfelt l ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Unlike some others, who thought this novel began well and then deteriorated, I found I liked it better AFTER some of the more ridiculous elements entered. To begin with, I found it a little twee and airy-fairy, but when the ghost appeared, I decided I wasn't meant to take it seriously, so I suspended my disbelief and just went with the story.

Having said that, I felt there was too much thrown at it: all of those storylines, mostly with tenuous links to each other, and all of the characters with t
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Those who venture into Clara Cohen’s shop in a little corner of Cambridge receive a pen, paper, and the opportunity to write someone a letter expressing their feelings—love, desire, despair—even if that person had passed on. Clara regards this as her calling in life, and sometimes she even sits at her grandfather’s desk and writes letters of her own, somehow knowing exactly what the recipient needs to hear. But finding a packet of her great-grandmother’s WWII love letters takes Clara on her own ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
Clara has a small shop in Cambridge focused on letter writing, with all sorts of paper and pens. She has a unique gift to help people write the letter that they need. Often, her gift leads her to random homes and people where she feels the need to write anonymous letters to guide someone through a crisis or problem. Her father was a master crafter of pens and she has a pen from him that he has told her will be used to write her masterwork. When she finds a stack of letters from her great-grandmo ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018books
In a forgotten nook of Cambridge a little shop stands where thousands of sheets of beautiful paper and hundreds of exquisite pens wait for the next person who, with Clara Cohen’s help, will express the love, despair and desire they feel to correspondents alive, estranged or dead. Clara knows better than most the power a letter can have to turn a person’s life around, so when she discovers a cache of wartime love letters, she follows them on the start of on a profound journey of her own.

A strong
I love stories that revolve around correspondence. It is such an intimate form of communication, not without flaws but with plenty of thought. Even a sad, bad, insulting or otherwise negative letter requires thought, fortunately in this story, the letters are more magical, as some of the characters are gifted in special ways.
It is a wonderful thing that around the world we have such imagination and can share warm, funny and touching stories with complete strangers. I am constantly grateful and s
Ann Boytim
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clara Cohen owns a little shop in Cambridge that is hidden away. Clara is a great believer in the art of writing letters and those people who enter her shop do indeed write a letter with her special pens and notepaper. Clare discovers a stack of her great grandmothers war time love letters and Clare's hot to find out answers about the contents and person mentioned in these love letters. Clare's journey takes her to Europe and finds someone who will translate these letters for her. Clare is deter ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another lovely read from Menna van Praag, this time around letter writing and the power that the right words at the right time can have on people. Woven in is the power of love and loving words to tell a story. This book ranges further, as the main character does but it all fits in very well.

I've really enjoyed these books as a foil for lockdown living, in the same way that I liked Nina Dufort's novels about Romney Marsh. These are better though! They are like relaxing in a warm shower, a change
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was my second novel by this author. I really liked the "House at the end of Hope Street" which is why I tried another book by Menna van Praag.
This one here wasn't so good, there were far too many storieslines woven into each other - or, more precisely - not woven but "standing" side by side... it got sometimes a bit confusing for I had to remember what happened to this person some chapters ago.
Besides that I had fairly soon figured out Otto's secret , so no suprises there.
And I didn't like
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magical-realism
I love Menna van Praag's novels. I get swept away from the first chapter and The Lost Art of Letter Writing is no different.

I love the little shop in Cambridge where paper and ink call out to you. The characters are so dynamic and well-written, and they pull you into their stories with ease. I love how they become entangled, unexpectedly at times, with one another.

This is a brilliant novel full of love and sadness and hope and light. If you're looking to follow along a journey of discovery, wher
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-fantasy
Bit disappointed by the end: all the stories ended with someone being urged to ‘have sex’, Clara’s man didn’t seem at all right for her (no fun, and that bit about menstruation at the end - urgh! Really, would a Dutch man with EAL really know that precise term?!) It felt rushed and unresolved somehow; especially re: Finn, Greer and Ed.

The best part were the WW2 letters. They were really heartfelt.
Barbara Makin
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Kind of strange. Based on the title it was not what I expected. There was several stories going on at the same time. One was even about about a wife that came back as a ghost and feel in love with someone other than her husband. That story I didnt understand. I bought it for my teenage granddaughters but had to read it first. Language was not appropriate so couldn't give it to them which was a disappointment. ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
3.5-4⭐️ read. A lovely whimsical, odd/quirky book that I really enjoyed. It's perhaps not for all, depends if you don't mind suspending your beliefs and going with the story that's often filled with "magic". But I did, the characters were lovely and the power of letters on each was enchanting to read. This was my first, but won't be my last Menna Van Praag read 🤗 ...more
Kari Bennett
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I struggled to fully engage with this book for a while, mostly because I felt the characters were much less connected than others in Van Praag's previous books; however, by the end, everything seemed to come together beautifully. Due to the Amersterdam storyline and her ideas about love, this is now one of my favourites by Van Praag. ...more
Vicki Chicago-Marsh
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Magical romance readers
I enjoyed this book. It was equal parts magical & interesting, which is what I love in a book. Several characters made an appearance from a previous book, The House at the End of Hope Street, which was an unexpected & pleasant surprise. This was the second reading for me, & I enjoyed it so much more this time around. Give this book a try if you love human stories laced with magic.
Sian Faustini
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I must admit, this is probably one of my favorite books from Menna van Praag. The storyline is beautiful and I love the idea of writing letters and that Clara has her own shop that entirely dedicated to doing so..

I’ve started the Sisters Grimm, but have found that I couldn’t really get into it so had picked up this one instead...not disappointed in the slightest !
Catherine McNamara
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want to write a letter

I never considered writing letters or receiving them as a source of happiness, but I do now. Such lovely people living ordinary lives changed forever by letters and love.
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Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella - an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer - Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her magical realism novels are all set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge. The House at the End of Hope Street (2014), The Dress Shop ...more

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