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Old 02-03-2012, 02:10 AM   #1
stephensmat
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Looking For A Good Epistolary Novel

Dracula is a book told exclusively from the position of Journal Entries and correspondence.

I really love Epistolary Novels, but I am limited in what I can find, because a lot of books, and e-books, don't announce that they are in that category.

I am looking for a good book that's in this format. A journal, a series of letters, newspaper clippings, things like that.

For those looking for a good one, I would look for 'So Much To Tell You' and 'Letters From The Inside'; by John Marsden, as they are the most recent ones I've read.

If you like TV Tie-ins, then look for 'The Complete Yes minister' and "The Complete yes Prime Minister', as they are done in the format of memoirs, transcriptions, etc.

And if you have a favorite yourselves, by all means point it out.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:59 AM   #2
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A rather famous epistolary novel is Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses aka Dangerous Liaisons, which was the basis for the film with Glenn Close and John Malkovitch. It's an older classic and the language in most of the available translations may be too stilted for your tastes, though. But you can read many of them free from the public domain, if you're interested.

One I've personally read is Barbara Hambly's US Civil War novel Homeland, which takes the form of correspondence between two women friends who are separated between North and South. I personally enjoyed it, but I also think it's the weakest of her pure historical novels (not that this makes it a bad book, as one of her other works was shortlisted for the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in a Civil War Novel ). It's rather pricey as an e-book, so perhaps you might want to see if your library has it.

Another one I've read is Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter if you like comedy horror spoofs. This purports to be based on a hidden manuscript diary by Lincoln himself, and intersperses entries from the "diary" along with faux-newspaper clippings and explanatory narrative. It was a moderately fun read which I was happy enough to get from the library, but not one I would have bought myself either before or after.

And if you're interested in science fiction Daniel Keyes Moran's Flowers For Algernon is a classic in the field, told in the form of journal entries by a mentally-disabled janitor who gains super-intelligence as the result of an experiment. It's been so long since I read it that I don't really remember how it goes, but it's very good and I seem to recall the author uses the language structure and vocabulary choices to really show how the character's perceptions are changing over time.

Also, Wikipedia has a nice list of both classic and modern epistolary novels in their entry on such, which you may want to consult if you haven't already.

Off their list, I've also read Steven Brust & Emma Bull's Freedom and Necessity which involves correspondence between a circle of would-be social revolutionaries at the time of Marx and Engels. It was well-enough-written and interesting (I own and enjoy other works by Brust and Bull), but it really is rather involved in history and it helps if you like seriously historical novels.

And I read a few of those Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend some years ago and I remember them being mildly entertaining in a spoofily humourous fashion.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by ATDrake; 02-03-2012 at 03:26 AM. Reason: Proper title for actual novel.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:53 AM   #3
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Definitely try Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, which also happens to be the first detective novel written in English.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:48 AM   #4
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Old 02-03-2012, 05:47 PM   #5
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? A really fun and fast read, whether it fits in the definition or not
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:27 PM   #6
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I would recommend World War Z. It is not strictly speaking an epistolary novel. It is the story of the war against zombies told as a series of interviews with survivors.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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The Grandmother of all epistolary novels is Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. It's over a million words long-a massive book! I've always given up reading it...
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by toomanybooks View Post
I would recommend World War Z. It is not strictly speaking an epistolary novel. It is the story of the war against zombies told as a series of interviews with survivors.
I'll second this as well. The book was very well done.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:03 PM   #9
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I'll second this as well. The book was very well done.
I'll third it. I've mentioned elsewhere on MR how much I enjoyed World War Z (even after reading the reviews on Amazon).
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:29 PM   #10
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The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium, Harry Mathews
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:37 AM   #11
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Did you ever read the Anne of Green Gables series? One of the books (Anne of Windy Poplars) is written as an epistolary novel.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:57 AM   #12
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Did you know that Jane Austen had an epistolary novel: Lady Susan?
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:44 AM   #13
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try sue townsend, the adrian mole books are good.

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Old 02-05-2012, 03:11 PM   #14
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Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable

It has a clever idea and a good story
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:23 PM   #15
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Ther's also The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova(which is only partly epistolary.)
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