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Margaret Powling

So glad you enjoyed Letters from Constance! It's still on my shelf, years after I read it, so I might now take it down again ... for a wonderful irreverent diary from a now bygone age try the Diaries of Chips Channon!


This sounds fascinating! I love the idea of the subject matter, and can see how the epistolary format would be a really good way to explore it. I shall have to look out for this one.


How interesting that Hocking chose for Constance's to be the only letters. Does Sheila narrate then or is the book only letters from Constance? From one of you snips it seems Sheila might have a narrative voice.


I like both a lot, real letters and epistolary novels.
This does sound very good. I know some people hate epistolary novels.
It's true what you say a bout letters versus e-mails. I sued to get such a lot of letters and it was always nice but since e-mail has taken over it stopped.


Yes, this is definitely a keeper! It's one I can envision rereading at some point. Have you read other books by Mary Hocking? I have her trilogy set during WWII that I really want to read. Thanks for the recommendation of The Diaries of Chip Channon--you know I love reading suggestions! :) All the better for one that is irreverent (and a diary, too!).


I'm not sure if books of letters are your thing, but this was done really well. It was an interesting way to look at the lives of two different women anyway--a little off the beaten path.


Isn't it? At first I was a little disappointed that we only get one side of the story, but then I decided it was interesting to learn about Sheila from a different perspective. The letters are all written by Constance and you can tell by what she writes what Sheila is like. There is no narration--just letters but Constance does write about events and conversations which makes it feel more like a narrative at times. Sheila does have a narrative voice actually--even if it is only via Constance's responses--if that makes sense.


I'm really enjoying my letter-reading. I have two books started that are books of real letters and need to decide which novel I'll read next--though I will try and finish one of the two I have on the go first. I miss all the letters I used to get, but since I am doing Postcrossing--I at least do get a few postcards in the mail every week. And an occasional letter. Lots of emails, though! :)

Margaret Powling

I have read one other Mary Hocking book, Danielle, A Particular Place, which again I enjoyed.

Another recommendation are the letters between actress/entertainer, the late Joyce Grenfell and writer Katherine Moore. It is called An Invisible Friendship, and they wrote to each other for 22 years until Joyce's death.

On a totally different tack, I should also like to recommend a book by Helene Wiggin called In the Heart of the Garden. This is a novel about a garden from it's early medieval times to the 20th century, and the people who gardened there. Do put this on your List!


Totally makes sense. I think this is going on my TBR list now!


I think you would like it! Maybe your library has it? I bought a cheap used copy.


I bought a few of Mary Hocking's other books, but I don't think that was one of them--am adding it to my wishlist. Did I mention I am reading a book of letters between Joyce Grenfell and Virginia Graham called Joyce and Ginnie, which I am very much enjoying--though reading at a slow and leisurely pace! I'll look up An Invisible Friendship, too. She was quite a letter-writer from the sounds of it. You've sold me on the Wiggin book--I've just ordered a good used copy (and an inexpensive one, too!). It sounds very good--perfect spring/summer reading--thanks! :)

Margaret Powling

Oh, so glad you've treated yourself to In the Heart of the Garden, one of my favourite books. And I hae the Joyce & Ginnie letters, too, but only briefly looked at them. I am sure you wold enjoy An Invisible Friendship - Joyce and Katharine Moore became penfriends in days long before email.


I am looking forward to Heart of the Garden--it should come in the mail in the next week or so. I am not sure now who mentioned it--maybe you did before(?), but by chance An Invisible Friendship came in the mail yesterday--how bad of me that I actually forgot that I ordered it. It was a nice surprise--and yes, their friendship/correspondence sounds right up my alley. I have both books of letters sitting by my bedside now. Books of letters are perfect for dipping into when you know you don't have lots of reading time.

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