Tuesday, April 6, 2010

E is for Epistolary Novel

Starting with Laurie Henry's The Fiction Dictionary, the definition of an epistolary novel is "A novel written in the form of letters--either all by one character or among characters." The expanded definition includes everything from letters to journal entries.

The most recent one I've read is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaefer and Annie Barrows. I consider it a bit of a mystery in some ways, as there's a character no one is quite sure what happened to. Note: I highly recommend this book. Considering I don't usually care for epistolary novels, that's a big endorsement.

As soon as I spotted this term in Henry's book, I wondered if anyone writes epistolary mysteries. I couldn't think of one off the top of my head, so I began to enter search terms in the little Google box. Here's what I found:

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise (2009). This is a middle-grade graphic novel -- we not only have a mystery and letters, we have illustrations. I found the reference at a public librarian's blog, Shelf-Employed. I love librarians (and libraries) so I'm now a new follower. If you love librarians, stop by and show Shelf-Employed a little reader/writer love.

Carrie by Stephen King is considered an epistolary novel on some lists, and it's the closest thing to an adult mystery I could find. How about the rest of you? Does anyone have an epistolary mystery to tell us about?

11 comments:

Sugar said...

I don't have anything to share, but I did learn something new from your post! thank you!!

Karen Walker said...

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" was my favorite book of last year. Just loved it. No, I don't have any others to recommend, although I think "The Color Purple" qualifies, since it was letters to God, if I remember correctly.
Karen

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I simply loved "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - not least because it takes place in the same location as one of my planned books. I've thought about writing a novel in this format - but I have no idea what the plot would be. I have written a short story in the form of diary entries; fun, but challenging.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I haven't heard of the word before, how sad is that? SO, I don't have any novels to suggest but you got me curious...I will look for some.

ann

Patricia Stoltey said...

The Guernsey book has been amazingly popular for a novel of this type. How sad that Mary Ann Shaffer did not live long enough to enjoy her story's success.

Karen, The Color Purple definitely qualifies -- and that's another of my favorites.

Linda L. Henk said...

Interesting as always, Pat. I always learn something from your writing.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Very interesting. I had no idea that Carrie was listed under this genre. Thanks for the post.

Marvin D Wilson said...

I'm reading a book called "The Terror" that has elements of "Epistolariness" (lol, is that a word? - I'd never known what Epistolary is before reading this post) in it, lots of chapters are taken from journals of the main characters as they journey their voyage onboard the ship "The Terror."

While it's not a fiction (any believer would say, at least), The New Testament of the Bible is, after the first four Gospels, largely an Epistolary non-fic, letters written by the apostles to the formulative churches in early AD.

The Old Silly

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I love learning new words and this is a new one for me. Can’t think of any mysteries off the top of my head, but now I’ll know what to call one when I run across it.

Jemi Fraser said...

It wasn't a mystery, but a fun book of journal writing is Catherine Called Birdy - a young girl trying to avoid getting married off to creeps in medieval times. I haven't many in this style at all.

Ann said...

I loved that book, 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.' Thanks for the tip, will check out Shelf-Employed. Enjoying your take on this challenge.