Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 5 epistolary novels

List by Annie

"The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness."
- Holbrook Jackson

Here you go – novels in letter format (or notes, or emails, or…). Nice and quick to read, but often with the story told between the lines.

Honourable mention:
* Jaclyn Moriarty’s oeuvre. Any of her teen novels fit the bill. I couldn’t decide on one. So I recommend all of them. (Maybe 'Finding Cassie crazy' if pushed) :)
* And… one of the earliest modern epistolary novels – and novels, really: 'Pamela' by Samuel Richardson. Mind you, I recommend this one, if only to make you read the much more entertaining (and less gag-inducing) 'Shamela' by Henry Fielding [multiple editions] – the send-up of Pamela.

Daddy-long-legs / Jean Webster
A trustee of the John Grier orphanage has offered to send Judy Abbott to college. The only requirements are that she must write to him every month, and that she can never know who he is. With so much happening in her life, Judy can scarcely stop writing.

Annie's note: I’ve just re-read this for the first time in years. Yeah, it’s showing its age (1912), but it is still a delight.

The colour purple / Alice Walker
This book tells the story of Celie. Raped by the man she calls father, her two children taken from her and forced into an ugly marriage, she pours out her feelings in letters to God, but has no one to talk to, until she meets a woman who offers love and support.

Annie's note: You can’t really have this list without 'The colour purple' being on it. A couple of boxes of tissues, and a punching bag needed.

The last days of summer / Steve Kluger
The place is Brooklyn, the time is the early '40s and young baseball fanatic Joey needs a hero badly in his life. How that hero becomes Charlie, and ultimately Joey himself, forms the dimensions of the novel's field, but it's the way the game is played that's so remarkable.

Annie's note: The relationship between Joey and Charlie – complete love. Just a box of tissues this time.

Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The enchanted chocolate pot : being the correspondence of two young ladies of quality regarding various magical scandals in London and the country / Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
In 1817 in England, two young cousins, Cecilia living in the country and Kate in London, write letters to keep each other informed of their exploits, which take a sinister turn when they find themselves confronted by evil wizards.

Annie's note: What a combo! Regency romance (a la Georgette Heyer) and magic! Luckily there are two follow-ups.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey. He'd come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island - boasts a charming cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Annie's note: I know, I know. Everyone raved and raved about this. And they were RIGHT! Read it. Now. And then, if you’re like me, my mother, my oldest sister, friends… you will read it again. Straightaway. And then, a year or so later, you’ll get it out of the library again. And, every time you think about it, you’ll want to read it. Why yes, there happens to be a copy available right now… sorry – must go and grab it before someone else does.

1 comment:

Annie said...

And... by the time I got to the shelves, it had vanished. Bad words were spoken (internally). :(