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The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  48 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

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Paperback, 350 pages
Published November 21st 2017 by Allison and Busby (first published February 16th 2017)
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  500 ratings  ·  48 reviews


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Dale Harcombe
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Michelle
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
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Jane Pennington
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.
Mercedes
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming story well done
Jessica Lewis
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Heidi
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My new favorite Menna van Praag book. Amazingly magical. Full of heart and beautiful characters.
Brie
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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).
Marion
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ktmholm
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tina
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
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Susan
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ulrike
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Barbara Makin
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rachel
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, 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.
Kari Bennett
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Johanna
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Catherine McNamara
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.
Andrew Harris
This book was okay. A moving and enjoyable read, and I only disliked it as it just wasn't in line with my particular taste in literature. Though drawn in by the concept of letter writing as a forgotten art, I found this book focusing more on anxiety rather than raw emotive power.
Kathleen Cameron
Beautiful, just beautiful

I read this because of another by the same author. To fill one story with love and hope and sadness in the same sentence is luck. In a second story it is talent..
Jeannec
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is wonderful! I cared about the characters and was intrigued to see their stories unfolding. There's a lightness and a little magic that make this a feel-good book. I was surprised to finish it and wanted more!
Sarah Smock
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little strange because it used unconventional ways to convey powerful messages. But ultimately, it’s a story about life and the gifts we give each other. And everyone has different gifts.
Emma
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another pleasurable and enjoyable read, with a subtle hint of fantasy, or intuition, whichever way you like to see it.
This is the second of this authors book've read. I preferred the first one, The Witches of Cambridge but it's a close call. I'm looking forward to reading her other books.
Traci
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have put off reading this book by Menna van Praag for sometime now. I'm so glad I finally decided to pick it back up and give it a chance. It was a great story of love, and of course magic. Lost love, returned love and new love.
Ally
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the structure of the book, as the plot unfolded gradually, and the idea of people with unexpected talents for insight into others in small ways.
Unfortunately, I found the writing a little too adjectival and the characters rather one-dimensional so cannot recommend it very highly.
Yvi
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. So much magic and passion. Love and some of the lovely characters from hope street.
Kate
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magical book that you can lose yourself in. I LOVE this author, each story told completely unique but shares the same magical quality. Wonderful read.
Gina
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You might want to read this book first. This is a good book and her other 2 books were even better.
Jan Vernor-howard
I could not put it down! I was in another world the whole time.
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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 ...more
“His letter arrives on a Tuesday morning. Edward sees it as he bumps down the stairs in his tatty tartan slippers, the ones Tilly bought him three Christmases ago and he’s worn every day since. He walks past the mail on the mat and heads towards the kitchen. As he steps onto the cold stone floor, he pulls his dressing gown cord tighter round his waist. The gown is still too big (he lost a lot of weight three years ago) and too feminine (paisley silk in shades of purple) in his humble opinion, but Greer made it for him the summer she died so he’ll wear it until it falls off, which won’t be long now. Tilly has sewn so many patches on the threadbare gown that it’s virtually become a quilt, but Edward ignores his daughter every time she begs him to throw it out. He also ignores the two flannel dressing gowns sitting in the bottom drawer of his wardrobe – still in their plastic wrap – birthday gifts from Tilly, gentle attempts to help her father heal and move on” 0 likes
“For a few moments Clara remains, reluctant to let go of her only chance of finding her unknown relative. Still, she holds on to the one piece of good news: there was no record of Otto Josef Garritt van Dijk’s death. Which might, just might, mean that he’s still alive. And thus she somehow, if only she can figure out how, still has a chance of finding him” 0 likes
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