Favorite Epistolary Novels: Fictional stories told thru letters, e-mails, Tweets or texts

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I learned to love this format in college when I discovered Private Eye magazine and the diary of a fictitious Denis Thatcher, husband of the Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “Not wanted on voyage” is my favorite bit of his lingo. There were more volumes to follow, but I haven’t read them. This is the original. It’s out-of-print, but widely available used. This one is also the product of two authors writing together.

Dear Bill: The Collected Letters of Denis Thatcher by Richard Ingrams and John Wells

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This book took the world by storm several years ago. Aside from a rather ponderous drama on PBS Masterpiece many years ago, it is the sum total of my knowledge of Nazi occupied channel islands. But, forget about that. This is a book for the ages. I loved it all. This is a unique novel in another way as well–it was co-written by two authors. I also loved and reviewed Annie Barrows novel, The Truth According To Us.

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

C.S. Lewis’ best fiction, in my humble opinion, is this collection of lesson-letters from the Screwtape (i.e., the Devil) to his devil-trainee nephew, Wormwood. As accurate today as the day it was published in War-ravaged 1942, this is a classic in the ways worldly life deceives and distracts people from the life God intends for them. I highly recommend

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Columbine-like killer Kevin is the subject of his mother’s letters to her husband. This book is chilling, but it does have flaws–like why wasn’t this kid in therapy? Read more here on my old blog.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

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Dating and texting in Saudi Arabia? Kind of like the Duggar girls doing a wet t-shirt contest at Spring Break in Cancun! This book is written as a series of exchanges posted to friends in an internet chat room (anyone still use those?). This is a fascinating and not too overly fictionalized account of young adult life for upper class Saudi girls. It was written in Arabic and banned in Saudi Arabia. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsnea

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I read this young adult cult-classic for the first time at age 54. It is so accurate I cried in places. You can read more about my reading experience here: Reflections on the Perks….

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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This book is just laugh-out-loud funny–and fun. I giggled all through it. You can read my review here. (Scroll down to the review).

Texts from Jane Eyre and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

Do you have a favorite novel told in letters or emails or other correspondence? Tell me about it–or leave a link to your blog post or book review. I love to read what readers have to say.

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9 thoughts on “Favorite Epistolary Novels: Fictional stories told thru letters, e-mails, Tweets or texts

  1. You’ve listed my favorites, Screwtape Letters, and Charring Cross 84, and you’ve given me a few that sound great.
    Dracula is, I believe, in the epistolary genre too, and I love it. I’d say it’s my favorite. For real, I like the biography of Abigail Adams we are reading, and that contains some excerpts from their correspondence.
    I like the letters Paul wrote to the churches and individuals, 🙂

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    1. Paul and Abigail Adams are excellent letters–Abigail is coming up in the non-fiction letters post in two weeks. Dracula was good and is letters, but I couldn’t include every book and it was my least favorite (though I did like it).

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  2. A couple Canadian ones I’ve loved are Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright (it’s been a while since I read this – it might be only partly epistolary) and Every Blade of Grass by Thomas Wharton.

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