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I was thinking when I began reading your post that this style of novel is not my favorite - but I see a couple here that I own and have enjoyed! Of course, now we have the novel of emails exchanged (cannot think of a title but have definitely seen this) - I suppose these would fall into the same category.


There's a few on your list that are on my giant to read list (the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die). I saw the Clarissa book and nearly fell over picking it up off the shelf. That's some tome and the print was mighty tiny. I'd like to give Moonstone and Les Liaisins Dangeureuses a try as well.

Oh as for the whole Les Mis thing - wow what an ordeal eh? I'm totally fine with abbreviating it. I responded to your comment on my page. Oh and by the way my copy finally arrived yesterday so I'm ready to crack it open this weekend. :)


Sorry about the typo I meant Les Liaisons Dangeureuses...


Ok there's a reason why there's a preview button... one more try: Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Sheesh I minored in French and even wrote a short novel in French you would think I could spell. Hmph!

Dorothy W.

I LOVE epistolary novels! There's also Tobias Smollett's Humphrey Clinker, another 18C example. I should re-read Dangerous Liaisons one of these days -- I really enjoyed it the first time around.

Will Entrekin

You know, my problem with Dracula was precisely its epistolary nature; its opening was fantastic, but after Jonathan Harker's journal, it read to me as if it were a series of letters/journal entries attributed to different characters who all wrote in Stoker's voice.


I have to re read Lady Susan. Didn't like her at all, but I liked reading the letters.

I'll post it next week.


I love epistolary novels. One of my favorite types of books. I have read a few you listed. You might want to try THE CHRISTMAS LETTERS by Lee Smith this next holiday season. It is written in the format of the yearly Christmas letter to friends. I usually reread it each year.


I'm always so impressed you can do this! I couldn't have thought of thirteen. Sartre's Nausea, and Beauvoir's The Broken Woman are both in supposedly diary format, but that's not the same thing, is it? Oh, I've thought of one - and I'm reading it at the moment (duh!) - We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. That's all letters to her husband.

Dark Orpheus

"The Colour Purple" -- as letters to God.

Les in NE

I love epistolary works. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding)
Boy Next Door (Meg Cabot)
These Is My Words (Nancy Turner)
Between Friends (Debbie Macomber)
Dear Zoe, (Philip Beard)
Dearest Stranger, Dearest Friend (Laney Becker)


I agree that Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Frankeinstein, The Moonstone and Dracula are all really enjoyable epistolary novels.

Reading Clarissa would be quite a project!

One that you haven't listed but which is wonderful is Evelina by Frances Burney- for anyone who loves Jane Austen or even Georgette Heyer it's highly recommended.


And I almost forgot The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, which has a significant epistolary element and which I feel is sadly underrated.


I have to say that I do find myself enjoying this type of novel. 84, Charing Cross Road is one of my favorites, and I have the Stone Diaries patiently waiting for me at home. Thanks for the suggestions for some other epistolary novels.


I love 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD. I was pleasantly surprised by the film of the book, too. Two of my favorite epistolary books are DADDY LONG-LEGS and DEAR ENEMY by Jean Webster. DADDY was made into what is considered a classic film, but I wish they had stuck to the story!


Oh, there's also a book called SORCERY AND CECILIA, which was originally released under a fantasy label, then re-released under a romance label. It's basically a Regency romance with fantasy elements, told in letter form. I believe the author is Patricia Wrede.


I hadn't read any epistolary novels so I had no idea if I liked them or not until last year. I tried "The Ides of March" by Thornton Wilder and really liked it. It's historical too, which I know you like, so you could try it.


A good ways into Frankenstein I forgot it was even being written as letters. It was that good. Which surprised me; I'm usually not too fond of that novel form (or monster stories, but there you go!)


I love epistolary novels, and posted a list of some of my favourites a while back. It's here:

There's also a book I read & loved last year which was mainly epistolary, "Fairy Ring" by Martine Desjardins.


Great post. These is My Words is one of my favorite books of all time. I love epistolary novels, and now I have lots more to add my list! Thanks!


I've read about half of these books. Les Liaisons Dangereuses and 84, Charing Cross Road are among my favourite reads.

There's also "More Than Love Letters" by Rosy Thornton. I haven't read it yet but I really enjoyed her latest book "Hearts and Minds".


I second the recommendation, above, of Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, as well as its two sequels -- The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician. They're all really clever and the mix of history and fantasy/magic is satisfying -- similar in mood and tone to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (though the latter isn't epistolary).


Great list! Thanks so much! I really do love epistolary novels. I was reading through your list and thinking that I would comment something like, 'Did you know that Frankenstein was an epistolary novel?' but then I got to the end, and, obviously you do. It's true, the people writing these 'letters' seem to have amazing recall, but that's just my disbelief coming down from its suspension, I suppose.


This one isn't a novel but it's a book based on letters between two best friends. One I believe is in NY and the other one goes to Africa it's Dear Exile by Hilary Liftin. Don't know if you've heard of that one but it is a pretty good read. Did you ever read the sequel to 84 Charing Cross Road? There is a sequel right? I need to get my hands on more of her books. That is definitely delightful.


I usually like to respond to each comment, but I think I'm going to have to be lazy today and just give a general Thank You to everyone--wonderful ideas!!

Melba Vickery

Caroline Rose Hunt's "Primrose Past" (2001) was a delightful intriguing mix of history, mystery, family love, teen girl angst and coming of age; romance, and care for the voiceless animals in the world. I'm crying in my herbal tea over the delay in publication of the sequel. One major discovery in "Primrose Past" is that the author's deepest emotions and philosophy of life are revealed in the way she depicts the details of 1880s English family life.

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