Exploring epistolary fiction

Recently a library customer came in just bursting with excitement and praise for the book Between Friends by Debbie Macomber. When I asked her what especially she liked about it, she gushed about how the book is written as a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, memos, etc.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, “You like epistolary fiction.”

She looked at me and asked, “What’s that?"  She had not heard the term before.

I explained that epistolary fiction is exactly what she had described – a story told as a series of letters and diary entries. She immediately asked for more books of this style and, since epistolary fiction just happens to be one of my favorites, I was more than happy to suggest book after book after book. Then I got to thinking that maybe others appreciate this style, as well. 

Here are some of my favorite epistolary reads:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Full of lovable and unique characters, members of this surreptitious society correspond with Juliette Ashton, a popular author of their day, and share how their unique group, as their name suggests, came to be amid the war climate of 1946.  

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This enchanting story of a first love and life in a ramshackle old English castle is captured in the witty journal entries of 17-year-old Cassandra who is trying to hone her craft as a writer.

These is My Words by Nancy Turner

This is the fictional diary of Agnes Pine and her time in the Arizona Territories from 1881-1901, inspired by the author’s own family memories. Full of triumph and heartbreak, this is an American saga not to be missed.

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Orphan Judy writes to her anonymous benefactor, whom she has nicknamed Daddy Long Legs, about her college experience.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Set on a small island where certain letters of the alphabet have become outlawed from, letters in Ella Minnow Pea simultaneously disappear from the novel. This is a delightfully clever read every word lover will enjoy.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Witty, charming, and touching, 84, Charing Cross Road follows a relationship, formed over 20 years of correspondence, between a loud, opinionated American writer and a proper, reserved English bookseller and their mutual love for books.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

In this curious, insightful correspondence between two devils, strategies are developed and employed attempting to influence humans in the area of morality. Witty in its presentation but thick with meaning this book will entertain the clever and deep thinking reader.



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