Chapter 32 - The Letter
I love to write letters - notes, cards, lunch bag jottings, thank
you notes, it really doesn't matter. Like many book lovers, the written word is important to me. Writing letters is a way for me to share my thoughts, convey information, and connect with people I love and don't see all the time. For me, letters are a tangible expression of love.
I also enjoy books written in the form of letters or diaries. The epistolary style of writing is sort of a voyeuristic thing, I guess. What is more fun than reading a diary or finding letters from another time? It is like finding someone else's secret self. I started thinking about books I have read that are written in either diary or letter form and there are quite a few which fit that style.
Here are a few of my favorite books written in letters or as diaries.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer - The Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in World War II. This novel takes place immediately after the war when a writer in London begins a correspondence with the Literary Society's members. As she learns about the impact the recent occupation has had on the lives of those in Guernsey, she discovers things not only about them but about herself.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - Seventeen year old Cassandra and her family live in a broken down castle in poverty. Cassandra, with a desire to be a writer, starts to journal all the happenings of her life including her eccentric family and her first foray into romance.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones is everywoman to some extent. In her thirties and on the cusp of being an "old maid", Bridget struggles with her career, her love life, the rocky marriage of her parents, and her biological clock. While the movie was really good, the book is definitely worth a read.
A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey - Published originally in 1978, this book was a bestseller then and has been republished many times since. It is the story of Bess Steed Garner who inherits a legacy of money, determination, and strength. It spans between the 1900's and 1960's showing Bess's struggles and successes.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh - This was probably my first introduction to the diary style of writing as this is a children's book I read at the age of 9. Harriet is a spy, she writes down all her observations in her notebook but then her notebook ends up in the wrong hands. Harriet's friends read the truthful but not so flattering things she has written about them and now Harriet has to repair a lot of friendships. This is a great story of what is now a common social media problem.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostovo - The narrator, a young woman living with her father after her mother's disappearance finds a stack of letters in his office. She starts to read them and realizes they may lead to information about her mother. The letters also reveal things about her family which she didn't know.
Let me know if you like this style of writing and, if so, what books do you like that have it?
By the way, August 9 is National Book Lover's Day so grab a book and post a picture!
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