Share 7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

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Yesterday Nina Sankovitch wrote about discovering a collection of letters that one of her favorite writers as a teenager, V.S. Naipaul, exchanged with his family. Author of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair and Signed, Sealed, Delivered—which takes readers through the history of letter writing—and a lover of the handwritten letter, Nina has read her fair share of epistolary novels and collections. Here she shares her 7 favorites. 


Royko In Love: Mike's Letters to Carol
by Mike Royko

Mike Royko had been in love with her since they were kids on Chicago’s northwest side, but she was a beauty and he was, well, anything but. Before leaving for Korea, he was crushed to hear she was getting married, but after returning to Blaine Air Force Base in Washington, he learned she was getting a divorce. Mick soon began to woo Carol in a stream of letters that are as fervent as they are funny. Collected here for the first time, Royko’s letters to Carol are a mixture of sweet seduction, sarcastic observations on military life, a Chicago kid’s wry view of rural folk, the pain of self-doubt, and the fear of losing what is finally so close, but literally so far. His only weapons against Carol’s many suitors were his pen, his ardor, and his brilliance. And they won her heart.

Royko In Love: Mike's Letters to Carol
Mike Royko

Mike Royko had been in love with her since they were kids on Chicago’s northwest side, but she was a beauty and he was, well, anything but. Before leaving for Korea, he was crushed to hear she was getting married, but after returning to Blaine Air Force Base in Washington, he learned she was getting a divorce. Mick soon began to woo Carol in a stream of letters that are as fervent as they are funny. Collected here for the first time, Royko’s letters to Carol are a mixture of sweet seduction, sarcastic observations on military life, a Chicago kid’s wry view of rural folk, the pain of self-doubt, and the fear of losing what is finally so close, but literally so far. His only weapons against Carol’s many suitors were his pen, his ardor, and his brilliance. And they won her heart.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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Letters to Father: Suor Maria Celeste to Galileo
by Maria Galilei

Placed in a convent at the age of thirteen, Virginia Galilei, Galileo’s eldest daughter, wrote to her father continually. Now Dava Sobel has translated into English all 124 surviving letters that Virginia (renamed Suor Maria Celeste at the convent) wrote to Galileo. The letters span a dramatic decade that included the Thirty Years’ War, the bubonic plague, and the development of Galileo’s own universe-changing discoveries. Suor Maria Celeste’s letters touch on these events, but mostly they focus on details of everyday life that connect her and her father: descriptions of confections she sent to him; news of his estate, which she managed while he was on trial; a request for Galileo to fix the convent clock. Her prose reveals an exceptional woman and presents a memorable portrait of deep affection.

Letters to Father: Suor Maria Celeste to Galileo
Maria Galilei

Placed in a convent at the age of thirteen, Virginia Galilei, Galileo’s eldest daughter, wrote to her father continually. Now Dava Sobel has translated into English all 124 surviving letters that Virginia (renamed Suor Maria Celeste at the convent) wrote to Galileo. The letters span a dramatic decade that included the Thirty Years’ War, the bubonic plague, and the development of Galileo’s own universe-changing discoveries. Suor Maria Celeste’s letters touch on these events, but mostly they focus on details of everyday life that connect her and her father: descriptions of confections she sent to him; news of his estate, which she managed while he was on trial; a request for Galileo to fix the convent clock. Her prose reveals an exceptional woman and presents a memorable portrait of deep affection.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
by Joan Reardon

More than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent memorably introduced in the hit movie Julie & Julia, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings. This riveting correspondence, in print for the first time, chronicles the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship between the two women and the turbulent process of Julia’s creation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of the most influential cookbooks ever written.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
Joan Reardon

More than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent memorably introduced in the hit movie Julie & Julia, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings. This riveting correspondence, in print for the first time, chronicles the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship between the two women and the turbulent process of Julia’s creation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of the most influential cookbooks ever written.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff

It all began with a letter inquiring about secondhand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the staid and proper Frank Doel of Marks & Company, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.

84, Charing Cross Road
Helene Hanff

It all began with a letter inquiring about secondhand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the staid and proper Frank Doel of Marks & Company, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Delightful Tales Set in Our Favorite Place—Bookstores!

By Emma Volk | December 29, 2015

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins

No, the "Moonstone" isn't a celestial relic, it's a gigantic yellow diamond of unearthly beauty that was given to Rachel Verinder as a present on her 18th birthday - and stolen that very night! Betteredge, one of the most beloved butlers in English literature, is the focus of this seminal detective novel, which examines how one family's life is turned upside-down by the theft. And find out why the answers to all of life's problems can be found in the pages of Robinson Crusoe.

The Moonstone
Wilkie Collins

No, the "Moonstone" isn't a celestial relic, it's a gigantic yellow diamond of unearthly beauty that was given to Rachel Verinder as a present on her 18th birthday - and stolen that very night! Betteredge, one of the most beloved butlers in English literature, is the focus of this seminal detective novel, which examines how one family's life is turned upside-down by the theft. And find out why the answers to all of life's problems can be found in the pages of Robinson Crusoe.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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Daddy Long Legs
by 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. Judy's life at college is a whirlwind of friends, classes, parties, and a growing friendship with the handsome Jervis Pendleton. With so much happening in her life, Judy can scarcely stop writing to the mysterious "Daddy-Long-Legs"!

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. Judy's life at college is a whirlwind of friends, classes, parties, and a growing friendship with the handsome Jervis Pendleton. With so much happening in her life, Judy can scarcely stop writing to the mysterious "Daddy-Long-Legs"!

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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Lady Susan
by Jane Austen

Beautiful, flirtatious, and recently widowed, Lady Susan Vernon seeks a new and advantageous marriage for herself, and at the same time attempts to push her daughter into marriage with a man she detests. Through a series of crafty maneuvers, she fills her calendar with invitations for extended visits with unsuspecting relatives and acquaintances in pursuit of her grand plan. As the plot unfolds, characters are revealed and the suspense builds — all through letters exchanged among Lady Susan, her family, friends, and enemies. Described by her rivals as the "most accomplished coquette in England," amply endowed with "captivating deceit," Susan proves to be a remarkable figure, devoid of any redeeming qualities, whose intrigues and devious machinations ultimately lead to disastrous results.

Lady Susan
Jane Austen

Beautiful, flirtatious, and recently widowed, Lady Susan Vernon seeks a new and advantageous marriage for herself, and at the same time attempts to push her daughter into marriage with a man she detests. Through a series of crafty maneuvers, she fills her calendar with invitations for extended visits with unsuspecting relatives and acquaintances in pursuit of her grand plan. As the plot unfolds, characters are revealed and the suspense builds — all through letters exchanged among Lady Susan, her family, friends, and enemies. Described by her rivals as the "most accomplished coquette in England," amply endowed with "captivating deceit," Susan proves to be a remarkable figure, devoid of any redeeming qualities, whose intrigues and devious machinations ultimately lead to disastrous results.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Epistolary Books That Will Make You Want To Break Out the Stationery

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 17, 2014

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