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Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
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September 2020: Psychological > (POLL BALLOT) Ella Minnow Pea / Mark Dunn - 5***** and a ❤

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5630 comments I think this fits because of the psychological effects on the citizenry of Nollop as they try to make sense of the edicts from their government.


Ella Minnow Pea A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
5***** and a ❤

On a fictitious island nation off the coast of South Carolina, the people pride themselves on their literacy and writing. Their founder, Nevin Nollop, is credited with writing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." A sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet, and which is memorialized in the town square. But when a letter tile falls from the monument, the Council takes that as a "sign" from above, and decrees that they should no longer use THAT letter. The far-reaching ramifications of this, and subsequent, decrees (as more letters fall from the monument) test the imagination, strength and patience of the residents.

The novel is told in epistolary form, and their missives adhere to the ever more restrictive rules as the book progresses. From finding synonyms to creative substitute spellings and even use of numbers, Ella and her friends and family try valiantly to maintain communication. You wouldn’t think the loss of one letter of the alphabet would have much impact. But what if you lost “V” and could no longer express your love? Or “H” and could no longer worship? More importantly, as residents flee the restrictions (or are forced out due to violating the laws), the entire society begins to crumble. Still, Ella and a handful of family and friends fight against the edicts and with the hope of returning their beloved island nation to a place where literacy is once again appreciated.

I had read this before and had a lovely discussion about it with my college roommate’s daughter. A few years ago she gave me the special illustrated gift edition, which has been sitting patiently on my shelves along with other “special” books. I’m so glad I took it off the shelf and read it at this time. This is a wonderful little satire on the use/abuse of power, but it is also a love letter to all of us who love and cherish words.


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First read in 2005
THIRD read: 08Sep20
I read this again and am horrified to recognize behavior in our current government's leaders that mimic the behavior of the leaders of this island nation. I didn't find it so funny this time around. Nor quite so enjoyable. Instead I felt anxious and afraid ... much like Ella and the other citizens of Nollop as their society crumbles. Still, I'm leaving my rating as it is.


LINK to my review


Theresa | 6298 comments First up, I think this a gem and was considering rereading at some point. And when I saw you mention a special illustrated edition....I feel a shopping expedition to ABE Books coming on.

And then spotted your reread reviewvjust now....yeah, can totally see it as disturbing vis. Our current situation...did feel that before but only in passing so to speak. Will wait awhile to reread, but still hunt out that illustrated edition.


Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments I read this back in 2011 for my IRL book club. I wasn't a fan of the epistolary form because I thought the characters' voices all sounded the same. But, I understand the necessity of this format to show what was happening to Nollop. I did, however, like watching the changes in the letters as the edicts came forth with the letters. That made me smile and snicker a little bit. I thought it was clever and creative.


message 4: by Doughgirl5562 (last edited Sep 09, 2020 02:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Doughgirl5562 | 711 comments "First read in 2005
THIRD read: 08Sep20
I read this again and am horrified to recognize behavior in our current government's leaders that mimic the behavior of the leaders of this island nation. I didn't find it so funny this time around. Nor quite so enjoyable. Instead I felt anxious and afraid ... much like Ella and the other citizens of Nollop as their society crumbles. Still, I'm leaving my rating as it is."

Having just read Gulliver's Travels, I now recognize Satire a little bit better than I used to. And I realize that this is the thing about satirical novels. They are funny ….. until they aren't, because it hits a little too close to home. I fully agree that it's still a 5-star book. It takes someone incredible talented to write such a creative, entertaining and witty satirical novel.


message 5: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 15, 2020 01:34AM) (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4978 comments Wow, I have never heard of this book! It sounds cool.

Ah, it came out in 2001. That was a hectic time for me with work/school/kids/marriage. It was years before I had the time to read again. Well, it's never too late.


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