Book talk – epistolary novels

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Welcome to an occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of books that catch my eye.

Looking for a different kind of novel? An epistolary novel is a story written as a series of documents, often in the form of letters, diary entries, or newspaper articles. More recent formats have introduced emails and blog posts and even Post-It Notes! All offer realistic views into the narrators’ lives and stories.

Here are some I’ve read and recommend:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker I read this years ago and would like to read it again.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank– have read several times.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – here’s a new book and this is the one with Post-It Notes!

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – recently read this, then watched the movie. The movie was a little dated, but still interesting.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I wasn’t sure I’d like this, but in the end thought it was excellent. Read it when my son was reading it for a high school class.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – read this a long time ago and remember liking it.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – read this in French class in college and had a hard time with the vocabulary, but then read it for an English class and finally understood what was going on!

The Martian by Andy Weir – liked this book a lot and the movie too, maybe even a little better because there’s a lot of math in the book. Still recommend.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – recently read this for my Whodunits book group. It was excellent.

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – read this for a required college class called “Images of Modern Man” – I raced through it, it was that good.

And here are some I want to read:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – hadn’t heard of this one, until today.

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher  – same!

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman –  I actually read this in junior high school and remember liking it., but I don’t remember much, so I want to re-read it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – been trying to get to this one for a while.

A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey – this was also a TV series with Sally Fields back in the 1970s.

Looking for more? Here are some additional lists:

Book Riot 100 Must-Read Epistolary Novels from the Past and Present

Goodreads Epistolary Novels Books

Wikipedia List of contemporary epistolary novels

Do you like the epistolary format? Do you have favorites?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


34 thoughts on “Book talk – epistolary novels

  1. 84 Charring Cross Road was a good read but the movie was better. Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins are superb. Either way you won’t be disappointed!

  2. I can strongly recommend Dracula as well. I think I’ve read it four times (which is a lot of re-reading where I’m concerned). Interesting post – I didn’t know this kind of book had a name to describe them.

    1. I’m not sure why I never read Dracula. I actually had to come up with a post idea for the library where I work, so after I did that one, I wrote a new one for this blog. Thanks for the recommendation, Graeme!

  3. Excellent list! I love these and have done a series of posts on them. I’m always buying new Diaries and collections of Letters. I have a review coming soon on one in fact. I’m glad someone else loves these, too!

    1. Hi Library of Life – yes I do like this format. It’s an easier read in some ways. I’ll look for your review. Thanks for stopping by – I’m trying to get back in the swing of getting on my blog and reader more regularly. Always a challenge when working from home – I get sick of being on my computer! Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

  4. My memoir recalls the moment my HS English teacher tried to disabuse me of naivete by suggesting I read Richardson’s Pamela, a novel of letters.

    The most recent epistolary novel I’ve read recently is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The movie was good too!

  5. I’ve read several of these and have enjoyed each one (The Martian and Dangerous Liaisons, especially). There’s just something about feeling like you’re peeking into someone’s secrets that makes them intriguing.

    1. Hi Tammie – I know, I feel the same way. I was going to include Go Ask Alice because I devoured that when I was a teenager. I thought it was a real story and then I heard it wasn’t, that the “Anonymous” author wrote it as fiction. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Hi Jonetta – thank you for stopping by and for recommending Evidence of the Affair – I hadn’t heard of that one but the title alone makes me want to check it out! 🙂

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