I’m reading a great book at the moment – Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Helen Webb. It’s a story set around World War One told through a series of letters between those at home and those on the front-line in France.
It got me thinking of how I am often swayed towards a book that tells stories by letters or diary entries when browsing bookstores.
Before I had really decided on the plot for my second novel, Kyla’s Place, I was certain it was going to tell some of the characters stories by letters. I did this along with a good chunk of diary entries too, but I’m not going to say too much on this one –I don’t want to spoil the story for those who haven’t read it yet.
Epistolary is the correct term for this style of writing... An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used.
Here are a few of my favourite stories by letters
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ - by Sue Townsend
I’m sure many of you have read this book and its sequels. Just reading the intro on Amazon made me smile all over again.
Okay, I wasn’t a teenager when this book was first published back in 1982, but still I found Sue Townsend’s diary style novel refreshing and very funny.
With this rekindled memory I’m tempted to read it all over again!
Bridget Jones’s Diary – by Helen Fielding
Another book written in diary form, 20 years later this first in the Bridget Jones series is still an addictive read, super funny and quite relatable to thirty-something’s today.
Bridget documents her struggles through the minefield called the 30’s with much musings, ramblings and Chardonnay.
We need to talk about Kevin – by Lionel Shriver
This is definitely a novel set in the darker side of modern day life.
Gripping and powerful, this story is told in a series of correspondences by Eva to her absent husband Franklyn, as she comes to terms with her life, marriage, career, parenthood and the horrific act Kevin committed when he went on a shooting rampage in his school.
This book had been around quite a while when introduced to me by a friend. I have to admit I found it hard to get into at first, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. If you’re one of the few who haven’t read it at this stage, you really should!
Dracula - by Bram Stoker
This book is said to be one of the most successful novels of all time to be written in a journal format.
Guess I should read it for educational purposes, to hone my writing skills perhaps, although I have to confess that horror stories aren’t really my thing.
There are plenty more stories by letters out there, some of which I’ve added to my ‘to be read’ list, like...
84 Charring Cross Road by Helen Hanff
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Persuasion by Jane Austin
Carrie by Stephen King
If you’ve read books that tell stories by letters that you really enjoyed I’d love to hear about them.