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Epistolary Fiction

“A letter always feels to me like immortality.” — Emily Dickinson, Dickinson/Higginson correspondence

Epistolary Novels are novels written as a series of documents — most frequently letters of correspondence between two or more characters. The origins of the epistolary novel are not clearly defined, though it is presumed that it most likely became a literary art form, after evolving from collections of people’s letters. Letters and notes feature prominently in numerous surviving texts from publishing antiquity, however the first acknowledged epistolary novels is generally considered to be “Prison of Love” (Cárcel de amor) by Diego de San Pedro, from approximately 1485 A.D. This format of writing fiction became extremely popular in the 1800s, with numerous “best sellers” catching the attention of the public, where commoners were becoming more likely to have reading skills and novels were a popular form of mass entertainment. Early epistolary fiction often tended to be occasionally salacious, with many of the best-known titles in this form being about romantic entanglements.

In the 500+ years since “Prison of Love”, the epistolary form has grown and evolved, and now incorporates numerous other forms of communication — personal diaries/journals, news articles, scripts, e-mails, text messages and more. It is still somewhat rare to have the entire novel told exclusively by letters or other correspondence, but many novels lean heavily on these devices in the midst of traditional prose storytelling.

All books in this list which are owned by Lincoln City Libraries are hotlinked to their entries in our library catalog, so that you may check on their current availability. Some titles not owned by the libraries are included in this list due to their classic nature. If you see a title on this list that is not hotlinked to our collection, please consider ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan department. Very old works, such as those from antiquity up through the 1800s, are long out of copyright and may very well have been digitized and be available for free online, through the Gutenberg Project or other digital archiving sites.

A starting point for the creation of this booklist is the Wikipedia page for Epistolary Novel. Although numerous other sources were used in the creation of this list. We do not make any claims that this is a “complete” list, but we hope this gives potential readers a good selection to choose amongst. Each title listed below should have a date of publication (if/when known) and a short description of the Form of Correspondence that is used within the work to make it appropriate for this list. Some titles have limited information in this regard, but are included here as they’ve shown up in multiple lists of established Epostilary Novels from other sources. Most of the content of this extensive list falls under Adult Fiction, though a few significant titles in Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction are included as well.


Antiquity to 1300s

Xenophon
Ephesian Tale

Form of Correspondence: Moralistic adventure tale, written before the last second century A.D., about young lovers who become separated and forced to endure a variety of travails, only to be reunited. They and the various supporting cast members all share stories with each other.


anonymous
Story of Apollonius King of Tyre

Form of Correspondence: There are 50 to 100 different versions of this tale, which at its heart is about the eponymous Apollonius revealing a great evil but being forced to endure separation and loss before his honesty and truthfulness are rewarded.


Antonius Diogenes
The Wonders Beyond Thule

Form of Correspondence: A romance novel, comprised of 24 books, written in the form of a dialogue about travels.


Iamblichus
Babyloniaka (a.k.a. Babylonian Story)

Form of Correspondence: A violent, occasionally brutal. love story set in a not-clearly-defined time, told in an elaborately rhetorical form.


Chariton
Chaereas and Callirhoe

Form of Correspondence: Another story of ill-fated love, treachery and lust.


Achilles Tatius
Leucippe and Clitophon

Form of Correspondence: An unnamed narrator convinces Clitophon to share tales of his adventures, involving love, war and loss.


Heliodorus
Ethiopian Story

Form of Correspondence: Written in much the same style as the works of Homer and Eurypides, this romantic adventure is told by having various characters describe their prior adventures in retrospective narratives or dialogues, which eventually tie together.


Ovid
The Works of Ovid

Form of Correspondence: Most of Ovid’s works were written in epic rhythmic poetry form, and many featured embedded letters and/or journals in their references.


1400s-1600s

Diego de san Pedro
Prison of Love (1485)

Form of Correspondence: Mainly consists of notes, letters, monologues and speeches, instead of traditional narrative.


Edme Boursault
Letters to Babet (16??)

Form of Correspondence: Originally a part of a larger work, Letters of Respect, Gratitude and Love, the novel Letters to Babet took the portions of the larger work that were love letters to a girl named Babet, and expanded them into a separate work.


James Howell
Familiar Letters (1645-1650)

Form of Correspondence: Written mainly as a series of letters from one individual, many of them while the author himself was in prison.


Gabriel-Joseph de la Vergne
Letters of a Portuguese Nun (1669)

Form of Correspondence: Five letters, from five different individuals, written in the style of “The Heroides”, a series of epic epistolary poems by Ovid.


Aphra Behn
Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister (1684-1687)

Form of Correspondence: Published in three volumes, the first volume is purely epistolary, featuring letters between two characters, while the second and third volumes insert a narrative voice. Behn plays with the form, introducing mis-delivered letters, false letters, withheld letters, and more.


1700s

Charles de Secondat
Persian Letters (1721)

Form of Correspondence: Told mainly as a series of letters from two Persian world-travellers, to friends and business associates, and to a harem of wives left back at home, under the care of a group of eunuchs. For years, not considered a novel, especially by the author, but now considered one of the earliest epistolary novels.


Samuel Richardson
Pamela (1740)

Form of Correspondence: A fifteen-year-old maidservant shares her experiences being pursued and eventually married by her wealthy employer, in a series of letters and journal entries.


Henry Fielding
Shamela (1741 – parody)

Form of Correspondence: A parody of Pamela, also told through a series of letters and diary entries, which are seemingly written in increasingly unlikely and awkward situations.


Francois de Graffigny
Letters From a Peruvian Woman (1747)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a series of letters from an abducted Incan princess, Zillia, to her fiance Aza, recounting her experiences as a captive and eventually as she is introduced to Parisian society.


John Cleland
Fanny Hill (1748)

Form of Correspondence: An erotic novel written as a series of letters from the title character to an unnamed recipient.


Samuel Richardson
Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady (1749)

Form of Correspondence: Considered Richardson’s masterpiece, told via a series of letters from a variety of characters to a variety of other characters, as a young woman’s quest for virtue is consistently thwarted by her family, who wishes to use her to improve their social status.


Oliver Goldsmith
The Citizen of the World: [A Satire] (1760-1761 – essays)

Form of Correspondence: A series of essays, from a fictionalized Chinese traveler, offering observations on English culture and civilization. The essays were serialized in their original publication, but gathered in collected form as an early epistolary novel.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Julie, or The New Heloise (1761)

Form of Correspondence: Ostensibly, a series of letters from two lovers, living in a small town at the foot of the Alps. In reality, more of an excuse for Rousseau to explore philosophical theories about authenticity.


Francis Brooke
The History of Emily Montague (1769)

Form of Correspondence: Generally considered the first Canadian novel, this is basically a love story told in the form of letters written back and forth between four primary characters, with occasional sidetracks into Canadian travelogue.


Sophia Briscoe
Miss Melmoth; or The New Clarissa (1771)

Form of Correspondence:


Tobias Smollett
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771)

Form of Correspondence: Written as a series of letters by six different individuals, from varying levels of society. Often, the letters offer observations on the same topic by multiple individuals, allowing humorist Smollett to comment on subjects from varying viewpoints.


Sophia Briscoe
The Fine Lady; or A History of Mrs. Montague (1772)

Form of Correspondence:


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)

Form of Correspondence: A collection of letters written by Werther, a young and sentimental artist, to his friend Wilhelm.


Fanny Burney
Evelina, or The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778)

Form of Correspondence: Letters of correspondence among various characters feature prominently in this saga of family dysfunction, social climbing, and courtship.


Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Les Liasons Dangereuses (1784)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a series of letters between the primary characters. Two narcissitic French aristocrats (and ex-lovers) compete in a battle of seduction and manipulation of those who surround them. The bulk of the novel is their letters to each other, but there are also letters from many of their “victims”.


Marianne Ehrmann
Amalie and Minna (1787)

Form of Correspondence:


William Hill Brown
The Power of Sympathy; or The Triumph of Nature (1789)

Form of Correspondence: Widely considered to be the first American novel, this is told as a series of letters, primarily between two men, chronicling an illicit seduction that leads to a suicide. Originally published anonymously, Brown was finally identified as its author in 1894.


Gilbert Imlay
The Emigrants (1793)

Form of Correspondence: One of the earliest American novels, this is a family adventure novel set in the wilds of the American frontier (of the time) — Kentucky.


Marquis de Sade
Aline and Valcour (1793)

Form of Correspondence: Written while Sade was incarcerated in the Bastille in the 1780s, this contrasts the state of affairs in a brutal African kingdom led by a despot, with the way of life in an idyllic South Pacific paradise, led by a philosopher-king.


Friedrich Holderlin
Hyperion; or The Hermit in Greece (1795)

Form of Correspondence: Originally published in two volumes, told in the form of letters from Hyperion to a German friend, Bellarmin, with a few letters from Hyperion to his lover Diotima in the second volume.


Hannah Webster Foster
The Coquette; or The History of Eliza Wharton (1797)

Form of Correspondence: Written as a series of letters among the main characters, this is a fictionalized biography of a society woman who fell from grace and died after giving birth to an illegitimate child in a roadside inn.


1800s

Sydney Owenson
The Wild Irish Girl (1806)

Form of Correspondence: A series of letters from a young English nobleman forced to travel to Ireland and attempt to rehabilitate a collapsing Irish estate. Though not 100% epistolary, the letters to his friend back in England do form a major part of the novel’s plot.


Mary Shelley
Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (1818)

Form of Correspondence: Important portions of this novel, considered by many critics to be the first true “Science Fiction” novel, are told in the form of letters and/or journal entries.


Honore de Balzac
Letters of Two Brides (1841-1842)

Form of Correspondence: Two young French women leave a convent and their lives follow dramatically different paths, as told through their shared correspondence over a dozen years.


Fyodor Dostoevsky
Poor Folk (1846)

Form of Correspondence: Presented as a series of letters between the two main characters, a pair of third cousins, twice removed, who both live in poverty.


Anne Bronte
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

Form of Correspondence: Now considered to be one of the earliest feminist novels, Bronte’s second (and final) novel was a bit ahead of its time. Epistolary elements include a framing device of letters from Gilbert Markham to a friend, about the intriguing woman he’s encountered, Helen Graham, as well as her personal journals chronicling her broken marriage and separation from her husband and the father of her son.


Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White (1859)

Form of Correspondence: One of the earliest “mystery” novels in the English language. Though not told exclusively in epistolary form, numerous letters from one character to another form critical elements of the novel’s plot.


Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone (1868)

Form of Correspondence: Another of the earliest “mystery” or “detective” novels in English literature, featuring correspondence as an important element of the plot, including police interviews of multiple witnesses.


Jane Austen
Lady Susan (written in 1794, published in 1871)

Form of Correspondence: Written originally by Jane Austen in 1794, but not submitted for publication during her lifetime, this was eventually published in 1871, and like the original version of her Sense & Sensibility, was composed as a series of letters by the primary characters.


Bram Stoker
Dracula (1897)

Form of Correspondence: This classic horror novel is an epistolary novel, told through letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, doctor’s notes, telegrams and a ship’s log.


Frederick Pollard and Mrs. Fuller Maitland
The Etchingham Letters (1899)

Form of Correspondence: An English nobleman returns from travels in India to his family estate, from which his sister (and other relatives) have recently departed for London. This novel is comprised of their letters back and forth, about the many issues of the day — with a lot of emphasis on their mutual love for the pets (dogs and cats) in their respective households.


1900s

Elinor Glyn
The Visits of Elizabeth (1900)

Form of Correspondence: This novel is made up of a series of letters from a young girl to her mother, describing both the comic and serious misadventures of a group of European aristocrats.


Eleanor Vere Boyle
Sylvana’s Letters to an Unknown Friend (1900)

Form of Correspondence:


Laurence Housman
An Englishwoman’s Love Letters (1900)

Form of Correspondence: Scandalous in its time, when published as by an anonymous author, and the public thought that it was scurrilous for a woman to be so frank in a series of letters. Later revealed to be written by a man, and to be completely fictional.


Barry Pain
Another Englishwoman’s Love Letters (1901 – parody)

Form of Correspondence: Parody of the above novel.


Yone Noguchi
The American Diary of a Japanese Girl (1901)

Form of Correspondence: First English-language novel published in the United States by a Japanese writer. Although originally marketed as an authentic diary of an 18-year-old Japanese girl traveling the U.S., it was actually totally fictional. Told in the form of diary entries.


Jack London and Anna Strunsky
The Kempton-Wace Letters (1903)

Form of Correspondence: A frank discussion covering the philosophies of love and sex, told as a series of letters between two men, “Herbert Wace”, a youthful scientist, and “Dane Kempton”, an older poet. London and Strunsky each wrote separate sides of the conversation, London as Wace and Strunsky as Kempton.


H.G. McVickar and Percy Collins
A Parish of Two (1903)

Form of Correspondence:


William Dean Howells
Letters Home (1903)

Form of Correspondence: A group of people from Boston and inland towns of Iowa and New York spent the three months between December and March, 1901 – 1902, in New York City for different reasons. Their “letters home” to various relations and friends tell an ingenious story.


Yone Noguchi
The American Letters of a Japanese Parlormaid (1905)

Form of Correspondence: Though written at the same time as 1901’s The American Diary of a Japanese Girl, this sequel, told again in diary or journal entries, was not published by Noguchi’s U.S. publisher and first saw print only in Japanese from a Tokyo publisher. It eventually received and English-language publication in the U.S., but not until several decades had passed.


E. Lucas
Listener’s Lure: An Oblique Narration (a.k.a. Listener’s Lure: A Kensington Comedy) (1906)

Form of Correspondence: A satire on London society. It is told in the form of letters, and deals with the everyday happenings in this London suburb, where the author himself lives.


1910s

Jean Webster
Daddy Long-Legs (1912)

Form of Correspondence: A young woman, Jerusah “Judy” Abbott, leaves an orphanage and is sent to college by a benefactor whom she has never seen. Told in the form of descriptive letters between the characters.


Jean Webster
Dear Enemy (1215)

Form of Correspondence: Sequel to Daddy Long-Legs. Told as a series of letters from Sallie McBride, the best friend of Judy Abbott. The letters are to Judy and four other characters, and the level and type of details Sallie shares with each other character effectively illustrates the type of relationship she has with each character.


Ring Lardner
You Know Me Al: A Busher’s Letters (1916)

Form of Correspondence: Part of a collection of stories about Jack Keefe, a “bush-league” baseball player. The book consists of a series of stories written by Keefe, while on the road, to his old friend Al Blanchard, back in their mutual hometown of Bedford, Indiana.


1920s

Viktor Shklovsky
Zoo, or Letters Not About Love (1923)

Form of Correspondence: While living in exile in Berlin, the formidable literary critic Viktor Shklovsky fell in love with Elsa Triolet. He fell into the habit of sending Elsa several letters a day, a situation she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love. Zoo, or Letters Not about Love is an epistolary novel born of this constraint, and although the brilliant and playful letters contained here cover everything from observations about contemporary German and Russian life to theories of art and literature, nonetheless every one of them is indirectly dedicated to the one topic they are all required to avoid: their author’s own unrequited love.


Mikheil Javakhishvili
Givi Shaduri (1928)

Form of Correspondence: A series of adventure stories, told by the eponymous narrator Givi Shaduri, who tells each adventure as its own separate and elaborately detailed experience.


Hugh Walpole and J.B. Priestly
Farthing Hall (1929)

Form of Correspondence: In this novel of letters Mark French, a succesful young artist, writes to his old friend, Oxford scholar Bob Newlands, as he embarks on a journey to Farthing Hall, following the woman who had instantly captured his heart in the theatre the previous night. The exchange of letters reveals the story.


1930s

Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace
The Documents in the Case (1930)

Form of Correspondence: The only one of Sayers’ twelve mystery novels not to feature her central sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. Told primarily in the form of letters between some of the characters, using the multiple narrative technique associated with Modernist novelists of the late 1920s and early 1930s. This collection of documents — hence the novel’s title — is explained as a dossier of evidence collected by the victim’s son as part of his campaign to obtain justice for his father.


Lucy Maud Montgomery
Anne of Windy Poplars (a.k.a. Anne of Windy Willows) (1936)

Form of Correspondence: First published in 1936, this entry in the “Anne of Green Gables” series details Anne Shirley’s experiences while serving as principal of a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island over three years. A large portion of the novel is presented through letters Anne writes to her fiancé, Gilbert Blythe. Chronologically, the book is fourth in the series, but it was the seventh book written.


Dennis Wheatley
Murder Off Miami (1936) (and others)

Form of Correspondence: During the 1930s, author Dennis Wheatley conceived of a series of mysteries, presented as case files, including testimonies, letters, and pieces of evidence such as hairs or pills. The reader had to inspect this evidence to solve the mystery before unsealing the last pages of the file, which gave the answer. Four of these ‘Crime Dossiers’ were published: Murder Off Miami (1936), Who Killed Robert Prentice? (1937), The Malinsay Massacre (1938), and Herewith The Clues! (1939).


Kathrine Kressmann Taylor
Address Unknown (1938)

Form of Correspondence: Told entirely in letters between two German friends from 1932 to 1934, this novel describes and predicts Germany’s political and social situation in 1930s.


Virginia Woolf
Three Guineas (1938)

Form of Correspondence: This series of non-fiction essays was originally combined with sections of fiction that were a follow-up to Woolf’s earlier novel, A Room of One’s Own. Woolf eventually separated the fiction into the novel The Years, and published the non-fiction essays as Three Guineas. The entire essay is structured as a response to an educated gentleman who has written a letter asking Woolf to join his efforts to help prevent war. The book also incorporates two additional letters and responses with other correspondants on related subjects.


1940s

C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters (1942)

Form of Correspondence: story takes the form of a series of 31 letters from a senior demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as “the Patient”. In the 31 letters which constitute the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining God’s words and of promoting abandonment of God in “the Patient” (whom Wormwood is tempting), interspersed with observations on human nature and on the Bible. In Screwtape’s advice, selfish gain and power are seen as the only good, and neither demon can comprehend God’s love for man or acknowledge human virtue.


Dodie Smith
I Capture the Castle (1948)

Form of Correspondence: The novel relates the adventures of an eccentric family, the Mortmains, struggling to live in genteel poverty in a decaying castle during a single year in the 1930s. The first person narrator is Cassandra Mortmain, an intelligent teenager who tells the story through her journal.


Thornton Wilder
Ides of March (1948)

Form of Correspondence: This is, in the author’s words, ‘a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic. Historical reconstruction is not among the primary aims of this work’. The novel deals with the characters and events leading to, and culminating in, the assassination of Julius Caesar. Includes some historical poems and essays.


1950s

J.D. Salinger
Nine Stories (1953)

Form of Correspondence:


Ferdinand Oyono
Houseboy (1956)

Form of Correspondence: Though it has a framing sequence introducing a vacationing Frenchman as the “reader”, the rest of this novel is a series of diary entries from a deceased character, which the Frenchman is reading.


Jun-ichiro Tanizaki
The Key (Kaji) (1956)

Form of Correspondence: Told entirely in diary form, alternating between entries by an elderly man and his much-younger wife, who engage in a series of activities to spice up their relationship, which ultimately leads to her having an affair.


Mark Harris
Wake Up, Stupid (1959)

Form of Correspondence: This is the hilariously explosive account of Youngdahl, a novelist, playwright, ex-Mormon, and father of seven. He is a frenzied man who is beginning a letter-writing campaign to escape his curiously ironic situation, and, of course, his profession. Along with Abner Klang, his not-so-literary agent who seems to have misplaced the F key on his typewriter, Youngdahl joins forces with a Mormon bishop, a TV adapter, and a prizefighter, among others, to spearhead a comic revolution.


Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon (Short Story) (1958/59)

Form of Correspondence: A series of journal entries by the central character, Charlie Gordon, a developmentally-challenged young man, tracks his progress as an experimental surgery attempts to improve his intelligence and reasoning capabilities to (and beyond) society’s norms. The journal entries show his progress to genius levels, then also show his regression when the experiment tragically fails.


1960s

Hubert Monteilhet
The Praying Mantises (1960)

Form of Correspondence: A psychological suspense story told entirely through letters, diary entries, reports, newspaper articles, and tape transcripts.


Theodore Sturgeon
Some of Your Blood (1961)

Form of Correspondence: This novel is, in large part, presented as a medical case file by Dr. Philip Outerbridge, about one of his patients, a George Smith. Half of the novel is a biography of Smith, while the other half is various documentation by Outerbridge attempting to sustain his hypothesis that Smith is a non-supernatural vampire.


J.D. Salinger
Franny & Zoey (1961)

Form of Correspondence:


Hubert Monteilhet
Return From the Ashes (1962)

Form of Correspondence:


J.D. Salinger
Raise High the Roof Beam (1963)

Form of Correspondence:


Louise Fitzhugh (writer and illustrator)
Harriet the Spy (1964)

Form of Correspondence: Young Harriet wishes to be a spy, and keeps copious observations and notes in a series of notebooks.


Saul Bellow
Herzog (1964)

Form of Correspondence: Chronicles five days in the life of a failed academic whose wife has recently left him for his best friend. Through the device of letter writing, Herzog movingly portrays both the internal life of its eponymous hero and the complexity of modern consciousness.


C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964)

Form of Correspondence: Published one year after its author’s passing, Letters to Malcom takes the form of a series of letters to a fictional friend, “Malcolm”, in which Lewis meditates on prayer as an intimate dialogue between man and God. Technically a non-fiction volume, not a novel, but makes excellent use of epistolary form.


Bel Kaufman
Up the Down Staircase (1964)

Form of Correspondence: The plot revolves around Sylvia Barrett, an idealistic English teacher at an inner city high school who hopes to nurture her students’ interest in classic literature. The novel is epistolary; aside from opening and closing chapters consisting entirely of dialogue the story is told through memos from the office, fragments of notes dropped in the trash can, essays handed in to be graded, lesson plans, suggestions dropped in the class suggestion box, and most often by inter-classroom notes that are a dialogue between Sylvia and an older teacher.


Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon (novel) (1966)

Form of Correspondence: A series of journal entries by the central character, Charlie Gordon, a developmentally-challenged young man, tracks his progress as an experimental surgery attempts to improve his intelligence and reasoning capabilities to (and beyond) society’s norms. The journal entries show his progress to genius levels, then also show his regression when the experiment tragically fails. Significantly expanded beyond the 1959 short story.


Shusaku Endo
Silence (1966)

Form of Correspondence: Written partly in the form of a letter by its central character, the theme of a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity was greatly influenced by the Catholic Endō’s experience of religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France, and a debilitating bout with tuberculosis. Less than half of the book is the written journal of Rodrigues, while the other half of the book is written either in the third person, or in the letters of others associated with the narrative.


Wolfgang Bauer
The Feverhead (1967)

Form of Correspondence: The Feverhead is written in the form of letters between a couple of not-at-all-bright Austrians. Their correspondence is doomed to failure, nearly every letter crosses in the post and yet they succeed in their quest: the search for a perfect thermometer (and a serial murderer).


Vladimir Nabokov
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969)

Form of Correspondence: The book itself takes the form of the memoir of a man named Van Veen, and his lifelong love affair with his sister Ada, written when he is in his nineties, punctuated with his own and Ada’s marginalia, and in parts with notes by an unnamed editor, suggesting the manuscript is not complete.


Lawrence Sanders
The Anderson Tapes (1969-70)

Form of Correspondence: Presented as a report “the author” has put together about an organized robbery of an upscale apartment building in Manhattan on Labor Day weekend in 1968. The format includes the transcript of secretly recorded conversations, both legal and illegal, acquired by either wiretap or hidden microphones.


1970s

Helene Hanff
84, Charing Cross Road (1970)

Form of Correspondence: Comprised almost entire by the twenty-year correspondence between the author and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co antiquarian booksellers, located at the eponymous address in London, England. Adapted for the radio in 1976, the stage in 1981 and as a film in 1987.


Robertson Davies
Fifth Business (1970)

Form of Correspondence: This entire novels takes the form of an extended letter written by Dunstan Ramsay, an aging history teacher at Colborne College, who becomes enraged by the patronizing tone of a newspaper article announcing his recent retirement, which appears to portray him as an unremarkable old man with no notable accomplishments to his name. His letter explores the highlights of his life, in an attempt to show that he meant something.


Anonymous
Go Ask Alice (1971)

Form of Correspondence: A 1971 diary about a teenage girl who develops a drug addiction at age 15 and runs away from home on a journey of self-destructive escapism. Attributed to “Anonymous”, the book is in diary form, and was originally presented as being the edited “real diary” of the unnamed teenage protagonist.


John Edward Williams
Augustus (1972)

Form of Correspondence: Told through various letters and fragments, this tells the story of Augustus, emperor of Rome, from his youth through old age.


Stephen King
Carrie (1973)

Form of Correspondence: Much of the book uses newspaper clippings, magazine articles, letters, and excerpts from books to tell how Carrie White uses her telekinetic powers to destroy parts of the fictional town of Chamberlain, Maine while exacting revenge on her sadistic classmates and her own religiously-intolerant mother Margaret. Stephen King’s first published novel.


Freddy Perlman
Letters of Insurgents (1976)

Form of Correspondence: A collection of work from Fredy Perlman (under the character aliases Yarostan Vochek and Sophie Nachalo). It takes the form of fictional letters, dealing with anarchist themes and relationships, between these two East European workers and one-time lovers, who were separated after a failed revolution; one spent twelve years in jails, the other escaped to the west. After twenty-five years without contact, they begin to write each-other about their experiences, their lives, their hopes, and their memories of the past.


Bob Randall
The Fan (1977)

Form of Correspondence: A novel of obsession, presented as a series of diary entries and letter correspondence between the main characters, Sally Ross, an aging but glamorous actress, and Douglas, an overly-dedicated young fan.


Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
A Woman of Independent Means (1978)

Form of Correspondence: Comprised of one woman’s correspondence to her family, friends, and others spanning from the turn of the last Century to 1968. Bess is based on Hailey’s own grandmother’s letters.


Stephen King
“Jerusalem’s Lot” in Night Shift (1978)

Form of Correspondence: “Jerusalem’s Lot” is an epistolary short story set in the fictional town of Preacher’s Corners, Cumberland County, Maine, in 1850. It is told through a series of letters and diary entries, mainly those of its main character, aristocrat Charles Boone, although his manservant, Calvin McCann, also occasionally assumes the role of narrator.


John Barth
Letters (1979)

Form of Correspondence: consists of a series of letters in which Barth and the characters of his other books interact. In addition to the Author and Germaine Pitt (or ‘Lady Amherst’, unrelated to any of Barth’s previous novels), the correspondents are Todd Andrews (from The Floating Opera), Jacob Horner (from The End of the Road), A.B. Cook (a descendant of Burlingame in The Sot-Weed Factor), Jerome Bray (associated with Giles Goat-Boy and Chimera) and Ambrose Mensch (from Lost in the Funhouse). The book is subtitled “An old time epistolary novel by seven fictitious drolls & dreamers each of which imagines himself factual.”


Doris Lessing
Shikasta and more in the series (1979-??)

Form of Correspondence: Subtitled “Personal, psychological, historical documents relating to visit by Johor (George Sherban) Emissary (Grade 9) 87th of the Period of the Last Days”, Shikasta is a science fiction novel — the history of the planet Shikasta (whose inhabitants call it Earth) under the influence of three galactic empires, Canopus, Sirius, and their mutual enemy, Puttiora. The book is presented in the form of a series of reports by Canopean emissaries to Shikasta who document the planet’s prehistory, its degeneration leading to the “Century of Destruction” (the 20th century), and the Apocalypse (World War III).


1980s

Mariama Ba
So Long a Letter (1981)

Form of Correspondence: Literally written as a long letter. As the novel begins, Ramatoulaye Fall is beginning a letter to her lifelong friend Aissatou Bâ. The occasion for writing is Ramatoulaye’s recent widowhood. As she gives her friend the details of her husband’s death, she recounts the major events in their lives. Address the condition of women in Western African society.


Alice Walker
The Color Purple (1982)

Form of Correspondence: Celie, the central character, writes a series of letters to God, explaining her life and difficult experiences.


Sue Townsend
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (start of series) (1982-2009)

Form of Correspondence: The book is written in a diary style, and focuses on the worries and regrets of a teenager who believes himself to be an intellectual, growing up in the early 1980s.


Stephen King
The Plant (1982/1985-2000)

Form of Correspondence: Told in epistolary format consisting entirely of letters, memos and correspondence, is about an editor in a paperback publishing house who gets a manuscript from what appears to be a crackpot. This six-part Stephen King story was an experiment in online distribution, which ended when paying users fell below a certain threshold. Though the story was never concluded, all existing sections are now available for free on the author’s website.


Beverly Cleary
Dear Mr. Henshaw (1983)

Form of Correspondence: Comprised mainly of 6th grader Leigh Botts’ letters to and from author, Boyd Henshaw. Initially a reluctant correspondant, Leigh eventually 0pens up to the distant author, who encourages him to keep a daily diary to record his thoughts and the emotional issues in his day.


Fay Weldon
Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen (1985)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a series of letters from Fay to an imaginary niece away at school, a green-haired punker who rebels against reading Jane Austen and who is busy writing her own novel. “Letters to Alice” was probably inspired by a series of instructive letters Austen sent to an actual niece on the occasion of her first attempts at novel-writing.


Michael Dibdin
A Rich, Full Death (1986)

Form of Correspondence:


Amos Oz
Black Box (1986)

Form of Correspondence: Written in the form of letters, which the four main characters write to each other. The correspondence ultimately proves a metaphor for the fractiousness and contention between Israeli Jews of different political and religious outlooks.


Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg
The Jolly Postman (1986)

Form of Correspondence: A Jolly Postman delivers letters to several famous fairy-tale characters such as the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella, and the Three Bears. Twelve of the pages have been made into six envelopes and contain eight letters and cards. Each letter may be removed from its envelope page and read separately.


Adrian Plass
The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Aged 37 3/4 (first in a series of 6) (1987-2013)

Form of Correspondence: A series of works by British Christian humourist Adrian Plass based on his own day-to-day experiences, depicting a fictionalised version of himself as the main character – a husband and father and member of a Charismatic church perpetually getting caught up in the latest crazes and events, written in the form of a diary. The title is of course a pun on The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole.


Myriam Warner-Vieyra
Juletane (1987)

Form of Correspondence: Told in diary format.


Paul Auster
In the Country of Last Things (1987)

Form of Correspondence: Dystopian novel. Takes the form of a letter from a young woman named Anna Blume. Anna has ventured into an unnamed city that has collapsed into chaos and disorder, in search of her brother, a missing journalist. Anna’s letter follows her quest and ends as she prepares to leave the city.


H.F. Saint
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1987)

Form of Correspondence: A narrative memoir, about 34-year-old Nicholas Halloway, a securities analyst, who is caught up in the unexpected side effects of a science experiment gone awry. He recounts how he became invisible, and how he must elude government agents who which to make use of his misfortunate by turning him into a spy.


John Updike
S (1988)

Form of Correspondence: “S” is Sarah Worth, an upper-class Boston WASP, escaping from a failed marriage. This novel is told through a series of letters Sarah writes, first to her ex-husband, and later to many other characters.


Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (1988)

Form of Correspondence: Consists of the letters written by Cecelia to her cousin Kate, and Kate’s letters to Cecelia, in an alternate history of Regency England, where magic and magic-use are the accepted reality.


Tim Parks
Home Thoughts (1988)

Form of Correspondence: Told mostly in the form of letters from Julia, a British educator who has fled England and now lives in the British ex-pat community of Verona, Italy, to her friends and relatives left behind.


Philip Roth
The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography (1988)

Form of Correspondence: Though essentially an autobiography by the famed American novelist, the autobiographical content is bookended by two letters, one from Roth to his fictional alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman, the other from Zuckerman himself, telling Roth what he sees as problems with this very book.


A.R. Gurney
Love Letters: A Play (1988)

Form of Correspondence: This two-character stage play takes the form of a series of letters back and forth between between Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, who first meet as children, and despite the ups and downs in their separate lives, remain a major part of each other’s life for decades to come. The actors read the letters their character wrote to the other. Generally, in most productions, the two actors do not even look at each other until the final scene of the play.


Lee Smith
Fair and Tender Ladies (1988)

Form of Correspondence: Ivy Rowe narrates this tale of a hard-won life in the Appalachian Mountains through a series of letters covering seven decades, starting as a child — her education and writing capabilities alter according to her position in life.


Michael Frayn
The Trick of It (1989)

Form of Correspondence: (From the Wikipedia description) written in the form of a series of letters to a colleague in Melbourne and tells the story of an academic working in English Literature who specialises in a fascination with a famous but unnamed contemporary feminist woman writer. She comes to visit his college and they sleep together that night. The morning she leaves and he pursues her hoping to resume the relationship. In time she writes about him or rather about his mother. The novel explores the theme of admiration of famous people by unknown members of the public and what might happen if there was a relationship between these two.


Ouida Sebestyen
The Girl in the Box (1989)

Form of Correspondence: Jackie has been captured by an unknown man and confined in a lightless concrete box, with only food, water and the portable typewriter she happened to have with her. This novel takes the form of letters she touch-types to the police, her parents, her teacher, and her two best friends, with whom she may have had a falling-out before her disappearance.


1990s

A.S. Byatt
Possession (1990)

Form of Correspondence: Possession is a novel almost entirely about letters — finding them, owning them, and discovering the stories they tell. Two academic researchers uncover the lost letters of a pair of Victorian-era poets/lovers, and in the studying of those private communications, a lot of secrets are revealed. Explores the idea of how intensely private letters, set down on paper, can be extremely dangerous when they fall into the wrong hands.


Sharon Creech
Absolutely Normal Chaos (1990)

Form of Correspondence: Absolutely Normal Chaos is a 13-year-old girl’s “complete and unabridged journal for English class”, as Mary Lou Finney  excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer. Not only does she have to keep a journal, but she must read The Odyssey. The Odyssey is continuously referenced within her own writing, as she adds her own comments about the Odyssey that reference to her own life. An older children’s or YA novel.


Avi
Nothing But the Truth (1991)

Form of Correspondence: Told through letters, memos, and transcripts of dialogue, serving to highlight and document the story of a New Hampshire High School freshman, who is suspended for humming the Star Spangle Banner by Francis Scott Key, and the ensuing results in his school and community. The author Avi refers to this a “documentary novel”.


Carol Shields and Blanche Howard
A Celibate Season (1991)

Form of Correspondence: When Canadians Jocelyn and Charles (Jock and Chas) are forced to endure a year apart, on opposite ends of the country, they decide to forego e-mail and expensive phone calls and only remain in touch with each other through highly-detailed old-fashioned letters, which prove to be very introspective.


Nick Bantock
Griffin and Sabine (first in a series of 6 novels — two trilogies) (1991-2016)

Form of Correspondence: Griffin Moss is a lonely artist, who creates postcards, living in London. When he receives a postcard from another artist, Sabine Strohem, who lives in a fictional group of small islands in the South Pacific, they begin a regular series of correspondence. This book features multiple little pockets that contain postcards and other ephemera that Griffin and Sabine have mailed to each other, inviting the reader to fully experience their back-and-forth communication in a tactile way.

The initial story is continued in Sabine’s Notebook and The Golden Mean. A later trilogy expands this storytelling experiment in The Gryphon, Alexandria and Morning Star.


John Marsden
Letters From the Inside (1991)

Form of Correspondence: Told in the form of letters exchanged between fifteen-year-old girls, Mandy and Tracey. They begin writing after Tracey places an ad in fictional magazine GDY. The two girls share information about their lives from school, to family, to relationships. The longer they correspond, the more one realizes the other is not being entirely truthful with them about their actual life.


Karen Hesse
Letters From Rifka (1992)

Form of Correspondence: Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams that in the new country she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her observations and experiences in the form of letters to Tovah, the beloved cousin she has left behind. Tovah’s observations are interspersed with Pushkin’s poems. Based on a true story from the author’s family.


Yann Martel
Manners of Dying (1993)

Form of Correspondence: Harry Parlington, warden at the Cantos Correctional Institution, writes to a Mrs. Barlow describing how her son, Kevin, executed in prison, experienced and faced his death. But multiple letters describe in totally different details his various “manners” of “dying.” It is not clear which of those “manners of dying” Kevin Barlow actually experienced (if any) or which was sent to the mother (if any); they are presented with ambiguity, as potential and often conflicting possibilities. Adapted into a 2004 Canadian film.


C.D. Payne
Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp (1993)

Form of Correspondence: The story is told in a picaresque fashion and makes heavy use of black humor and camp. The book contains parts one through three of an eleven-part series (the three sequential parts were published as three separate books). Adapted into a 1994 stage play and a 2010 movie.


Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower (1993)

Form of Correspondence: Set in a near-future dystopia, formatted as a series of diary entries and Earthseed scriptures, from the constructed religion that the central character has created and is sharing during her travels.


Douglas Coupland
Microserfs (1995)

Form of Correspondence: The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, this novel is similar to what emerged a decade later as the blog format. The author revisited many of the ideas in Microserfs in his 2006 novel JPod, which has been labeled “Microserfs for the Google generation”. Set in the early 1990s, it captured the state of the technology industry before Windows95, and anticipated the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.


Susanna Tamaro
Follow Your Heart (1995)

Form of Correspondence: An elderly woman writes letters to her granddaughter who has left Italy for America. She writes about the poor choices she has made, which have led to several lives being ruined.


Christopher Priest
The Prestige (1995)

Form of Correspondence: It tells the story of a prolonged feud between two stage magicians in late 1800s England. It purports to be a collection of real diaries that were kept by the protagonists and later collated. The title derives from the novel’s fictional practice of stage illusions having three parts: the setup, the performance, and the prestige (effect). Adapted into a 2006 film.


Carl Steadman
Two Solitudes (1995)

Form of Correspondence: Two friends (lovers?) find themselves separated, and maintain connections with a series of daily e-mails. Much of their e-mail content is light, breezy stuff, but it occasionally ventures into serious fare. This is considered, by many, to be the first “e-mail novel”, composed entirely by a series of e-mails. Available online.


Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones’ Diary (first in a series of novels, 1996-2016)

Form of Correspondence: A year’s worth of daily journal entries of a thirty-something British woman who struggles to find happiness with her life, which is filled with dieting, shopping, attempts to stop smoking, self-image anxiety and personal improvement. Not to mention awkward relationships. Adapted into a 2001 film. Followed by The Edge of Reason (1999), Mad About the Boy (2013), and Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016).


J. Nozipo Maraire
Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter (1996)

Form of Correspondence: A Zimbabwean mother writes to her daughter, Zenzele, a Harvard student, telling the story of her life and thus reflecting the upheavals of her country and indeed her continent over the last 30 years or so. Lots of characters are scene, but the point of view is entirely the mother’s.


Elizabeth Berg
The Pull of the Moon (1996)

Form of Correspondence: A runaway wife on a journey to discover herself, writes a series of letters and journal entries to her husband and children, describing the events and feelings she experiences as she searches for meaning in her life.


Qio Miaojin
Last Words From Montmartre (1996)

Form of Correspondence: Unpublished at the time of the author’s suicide in 1995, this novel was eventually located and shared with readers. It unfolds through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, telling the story of a passionate relationship between two young women — their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love.


Emma Bull and Steve Brust
Freedom and Necessity (1997)

Form of Correspondence: In Victorian times, a presumed-drowned young man awakens to find himself in an unfamiliar place and sought after by members of several conspiracies. He and various allies correspond by occasionally incomplete letters as he and they try to to find out how he nearly died.


Hope Keshubi
Going Solo (1997)

Form of Correspondence:


Rick Moody
The Mansion on the Hill (1997)

Form of Correspondence: A young man named Andy writes to his sister, in a stream-of-consciousness form, about his complicated life. It turns out, the sister is dead, and Andy’s non-stop ravings may be a guilty-conscience trying assert itself.


Kris Craus
I Love Dick (1997)

Form of Correspondence: An experimental collage of diary, letter and auto-fictional criticism, featuring a cast of characters all vying for their chance to speak.


Alfredo Bryce Echenique
Tarzan’s Tonsillitus (1998)

Form of Correspondence: A pair of lovers in the 1960s and 1970s can only see one another very rarely. In order to keep their relationship alive and vibrant, they regularly write to each other.


Nancy E. Turner
These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901: Arizona Territories (1998)

Form of Correspondence: Autobiographical diary-like entries from Sarah Agnes Prine, which follow her from her childhood on the Oregon Trail, through her adulthood and two marriages. Sarah’s narrative voice matures over time.


Steve Kluger
Last Days of Summer (1998)

Form of Correspondence: Set in the 1940s, told completely through forms of correspondence; letters, postcards, interviews with a psychiatrist, progress reports, and newspaper clippings, though primarily consisting of letters written between fictional New York Giants third baseman Charlie Banks and Jewish twelve-year-old Joey Margolis.


Nikki Grimes
Jazmin’s Notebook (1998)

Form of Correspondence: Told in the form of diary entries.


Octavia Butler
Parable of the Talents (1998)

Form of Correspondence: Formatted as a series of diary entries from the central character, interspersed with scripture lessons from the new religion she has invented, called Earthseed.


Steven Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)

Form of Correspondence: Told entirely as a series of letters written by the main character, Charlie, to an anonymous “friend.”


Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak (1999)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a first-person, diary-like narrative. Written in the voice of high school student Melinda Sordino, it features lists, subheadings, spaces between paragraphs and script-like dialogue. The fragmented style mimics Melinda’s trauma, as she retreats behind verbal silence after being raped.


Orson Scott Card
The Ender’s Game saga (series) (1999- )

Form of Correspondence:


Tim Parks
Home Thoughts (1999)

Form of Correspondence: A series of letters from and to various characters, illustrates the life of Julia, a 33-year old Londoner, who dumps her job and her married lover for a new life teaching English in Italy.


Ben Elton
Inconceivable (1999)

Form of Correspondence: A series of diary entries written by a couple having trouble conceiving a child. They document their marital issues in an occasionally-humorous, occasionaly painful way.


Kij Johnson
The Fox Woman (1999)

Form of Correspondence: Based on a ninth-century Japanese fairy tale. Told through the diaries of the three main characters, include a “fox-woman”. The characters sometimes also communicate with each other through poetry — haikus and wakas that express their inner feelings.


2000s

Jaclyn Moriarty
Feeling Sorry for Celia (2000)

Form of Correspondence: 15-year-old Australian Elizabeth Clarry is assigned a project by her English teacher, to begin a letter correspondence with a student from the local comprehensive high school. She and her pen pal write to each other regularly, sharing insights and concerns, including about the pen pal’s friend Celia, who has run away from home and disappeared. Added to this are the barrage of letters that Elizabeth constantly receives from various societies and clubs, each pointing out her faults and generally bringing her down. Those letters are reflections of Elizabeth’s own subconscious thoughts and are not actually real.


Matt Beaumont
e: The Novel of Liars, Lunch and Lost Knickers (2000)

Form of Correspondence: Consists entirely of e-mails composed by the staff of one advertising office; it is generally recognised as one of the first e-mail novels.


Iselin C. Hermann
Priority: A Correspondence Published (2000)

Form of Correspondence: A young woman, Delphine, writes a letter to an artist whose work she admires, presuming he’ll never respond. But he does, and this begins a mutual correspondence that turns into love letters between people who’ve never met in person.


Marc C. Danielewski
The Whalestoe Letters (a prequel to House of Leaves (2000)

Form of Correspondence: In this short volume that ties in to House of Leaves, one of the narrators of that novel receives a series of letters from his mother, a resident at a psychiatric hospital, which show her rapid descent into madness. Included in a slightly briefer form as an appendix to House of Leaves, as well as this stand-alone volume.


Marc. C. Danielewski
House of Leaves (2000)

Form of Correspondence: Far more than just a mere epistolary novel, House of Leaves (Danielewski’s debut novel) tells a mind-bending story from multiple different perspectives, using multiple different storytelling methods — academic studies, footnotes (which often have footnotes of their own), transcripts, references to fiction books, films or articles, multiple narrators — whose text is often in different colored or printed perpendicular to the normal text orientation. An associated series of documents, The Whalestoe Letters is included as an appendix to this novel, but has also been published as a separate volume — that separate volume includes additional content.


Rosie Rushton and Nina Schindler
P.S.: He’s Mine! A Novel in E-mail (2000)

Form of Correspondence: YA collaboration between British author Rushton and German author Schindler. Embeds e-mails within the framework of a third-person narrative.


Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries (series of 10) (2000-2013)

Form of Correspondence: The story of Mia Thermopolis’ adolescent turmoil as an average teenager and, as she later finds out, a princess of royal descent (her father), is chronicled in her on-going journal, where she explores topics of teenage angst, romance, and heartbreak as she lives and learns from them. The main series follows Mia from her freshman year of high school to her graduation, with a two-year jump between the ninth and tenth books and an eight year jump from the tenth to eleventh. The plots of most volumes take place in Manhattan, though some events also take place in the fictional kingdom of Genovia.


Richard B. Wright
Clara Callan (2001)

Form of Correspondence: It is the story of a woman in her thirties living in Ontario during the 1930s and is written in epistolary form, utilizing letters and journal entries to tell the story. The protagonist, Clara, faces the struggles of being a single woman in a rural community in the early 20th century. Clara’s sister, Nora, left home to work as an actress in New York City. Clara writes letters to her sister, and to Nora’s lesbian writer friend Evelyn Dowling and also maintains a journal.


Andrew Crumey
Mr. Mee (2000)

Form of Correspondence:


Mark Dunn
Ella Minnow Pea (2001)

Form of Correspondence: The plot is conveyed through mail or notes sent between various characters. The book is “progressively lipogrammatic” — as the story proceeds, more and more letters of the alphabet are excluded from the characters’ writing. As letters of the alphabet disappear, the novel becomes more and more phonetically or creatively spelled, and requires more effort to interpret.


Meg Cabot
The Boy Next Door series (2002-2016)

Form of Correspondence: Told almost entirely as an exchange of e-mails between the various characters. The first entry features mistaken identities, Great Danes in search of a caregiver, romantic interludes between reporters for rival newspapers, and cats.


Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002)

Form of Correspondence: An “official” biography of Lemony Snicket, the fictional author of the A Series of Unfortunate Events juvenile novels. Told as an examination of various document, including letters, transcripts, notes, identification paperwork, illustrations and more. It would probably help to have read the novels in A Series of Unfortunate Events, to understand the references.


Lionel Shriver
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003)

Form of Correspondence: Following a fictional school shooting event, the mother (Eva Khatchadourian) of the teenage killer documents her attempt to come to terms with her son Kevin and the murders he committed, as told in a series of letters from Eva to her husband. Adapted into a 2011 film.


Jaclyn Moriarty
The Year of Secret Assignments (2003)

Form of Correspondence: Best friends Lydia, Emily and Cassie attend Ashbury, an Australian private school. Their “year of secret assignments” begins when their English teacher pairs them with pen pals from neighboring Brookfield High, a rougher school where students “have more tattoos and prison time.” Although the girls are a bit wary about writing to strangers, their correspondence with boys their age spawns some interesting, often hilarious exchanges of confidences that lead to a series of clandestine meetings and daring escapades.


Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (2003)

Form of Correspondence: The novel is told in first person from a boy with Asperger’s, Christopher John Francis Boone. It is also an epistolary novel in part, because sections of the book are written in the form of letters from Christopher’s mother. Christopher’s Asperger’s leads his narrative to often feel like journal entries.


Rodger Morrison
The My Dearest Letters (2003)

Form of Correspondence: Captivated by the beauty of a woman in a time when courtship was taboo. William uses the only means available to make the wooman he has fallen in love with aware of his affections–he writes her letters. Set in the 1800’s, this collection of letters will inspire the hopeless romantic in you.


Carlos Fuentes
The Eagle’s Throne (2003)

Form of Correspondence: An alternate history historical fiction. Mexico’s president has dared to vote against the United States in a Security Council meeting. Vengeance comes quickly. The U.S. cuts off all Mexico’s phones, emails, and other forms of communication. People are now forced to communicate via letter.


David Mitchell
Cloud Atlas (2004)

Form of Correspondence: The book consists of six nested stories; each is read or observed by a main character of the next, thus they progress in time through the central sixth story. The first five stories are each interrupted at a pivotal moment. After the sixth story, the others are resolved in reverse chronological order. The protagonist of each section reads or observes the chronologically earlier work in the chain. Some of the storytelling involves the use of journal entries.


Arthur Phillips
The Egyptologist (2004)

Form of Correspondence: “The Egyptologist” is a mystery, and an epistolary novel, told in several voices and recalled from various perches of chronology. Different narrative voices are achieved through the use of different font sets.


Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
The Grand Tour (2004)

Form of Correspondence: An official sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (1988). The two couples from the earlier novel are now married, and traveling on a joint honeymoon. Unlike the earlier volume, told mainly through the correspondence between the characters, in this entry we read Kate’s diary and Cecelia’s after-the-fact deposition (a written narrative, not a transcribed question-and-answer session).


Cecelia Ahern
Love Rosie (a.k.a. Where Rainbows End, a.k.a. Rosie Dunne) (2004)

Form of Correspondence: The entire novel is written in epistolary structure in the form of letters, emails, instant messages, and newspaper articles.


Mark Dunn
Ibid: A Life (2004)

Form of Correspondence: In a series of (fictional) letters exchanged between the author, Mark Dunn, and his editor, it is explained that the only copy of Dunn’s excessively and exhaustively researched and documented biography of one Jonathan Blashette – a circus performer born with three legs who goes on to make a fortune in the deodorant business and becomes a famous philanthropist – was accidentally knocked into a bathtub and destroyed. Luckily, Dunn had not yet sent along his voluminous endnotes and they survived, so the editor convinces Dunn to make a virtue of necessity and publish the endnotes by themselves. The reader is left to try and ferret out the details of Blashette’s life story through the marginal asides and tangents related therein.


Lauren Myracle
ttyl (first in the Internet Girls quartet) (2004)

Form of Correspondence: This novel is noteworthy as the first novel to be composed entirely of Instant Messages. It covers the trials and tribulations of three high school best friends, as they deal with high school issues of relationships, dating, and peer pressure. Followed up ttfn, l8r g8r and yolo.


Marilynne Robinson
Gilead (2004)

Form of Correspondence: The entire narrative is a single, continuing, albeit episodic, document, written on several occasions in a form combining a journal and a memoir. It comprises the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly, white Congregationalist pastor in the fictional small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa.


Steve Kluger
Almost Like Being in Love (2004)

Form of Correspondence: A gay fiction romance novel told primarily through diary entries, newspaper clippings, office documents, letters, e-mails, menus, post-it notes and checklists, with only minor reliance on traditional narrative.


John Stevens
Uncommon Valour (2005)

Form of Correspondence: An omnibus edition combining John Stevens’ novels The Frigate Captain and Broad Pendant. Primarily written in the form of diary and log extracts.


Thomas Kent Miller
The Great Detective at the Crucible of Life; or The Adventure of the Rose of Fire (2005)

Form of Correspondence: A pastiche crossing over the legendary figures of Allan Quartermain and Sherlock Holmes, but told from a variety of sometimes-conflicting points of view. Editor’s notes and introductory information prove to be critical to the reading of this one.


Louis Lopez Nieves
Voltaire’s Heart (2005)

Form of Correspondence: A detective novel, followed by Galileo’s Silence (2009), together forming the first two parts of an unfinished trilogy.


Lucy Kellaway with Martin Lukes
Who Moved My Blackberry? (2005)

Form of Correspondence: British author Kellaway “partners” on this novel with her fictional character “Martin Lukes”. Martin Lukes is a superstar at the office and at home — just ask him. Blessed with an ego the size of Mount Everest and virtually no sense of self, he blusters through life with cheerful obliviousness. Who Moved My Blackberry? is the uproarious e-epistolary story of one spectacularly bad year in his life, during which Martin hires an executive coach to help him achieve “22.5 percent better than my bestest,” only to inadvertently insult his new boss, watch his wife get a job that threatens to eclipse his own, and allow his BlackBerry — complete with racy e-mails to his secretary/lover — to fall into the hands of his juvenile delinquent son. Featuring an office so dysfunctional, it’s bound to strike a chord with any nine-to-fiver.


Kate Cary
Bloodline (2005)

Form of Correspondence: An unofficial “sequel” to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Like the original Bloodline is written entirely in letters, diary entries and news articles. A second novel, titled Bloodline: Reckoning (2007) was also later released.


Tim Lucas
The Book of Renfield: A Gospel of Dracula (2005)

Form of Correspondence: An unoffical “prequel” to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Like the original, The Book of Renfield is composed as a series of written documents, mainly the notes of Dr. John Seward, administrator of the insane asylum in which Dracula’s servant, “R.M. Renfield” has been incarcerated. Includes passages from the original Dracula.


Bruce Campbell
Make Love* (*the Bruce Campbell Way) (2005)

Form of Correspondence: Quirky, not-really-autobiographical novel about a B-movie actor trying to break into the A-list territory. This very humorous work is peppered throughout by ancillary content of an epistolary nature — posters, advertisements, call sheets, handwritten notes, etc.


Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian (2005)

Form of Correspondence: The Historian interweaves the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia known as “Vlad the Impaler”, and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula together with the story of Paul, a professor; his 16-year-old daughter; and their quest for Vlad’s tomb. The novel ties together three separate narratives using letters and oral accounts: that of Paul’s mentor in the 1930s, that of Paul in the 1950s, and that of the narrator herself in the 1970s. The tale is told primarily from the perspective of Paul’s daughter, who is never named.


Kalisha Buckhanon
Upstate (2005)

Form of Correspondence: The letters, back-and-forth, over the course of several years, between Antonio and Natasha. Antonio is in prison in “upstate” New York, for the murder of his father. Natasha is his true love. Over time, Natasha finds more in the world to appeal to her passions than just Antonio, while, for Antonio, Natasha is his emotional anchor.


Max Brooks
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars (2006)

Form of Correspondence: In the tradition of non-fiction “oral histories”, like the works of Studs Terkel, this tells the story of the originals, events, and aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, in the first person accounts formed by interviews with survivors a few years after the events took place.


Jaclyn Moriarty
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (2006) (a.k.a. The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie)

Form of Correspondence: Third in the series of novels by Jaclyn Moriarty, set in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. The story is told through letters, memos and transcripts, similar to the structure of other novels by the author.


Lemony Snicket
The Beatrice Letters (2006)

Form of Correspondence: Related to the 13-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events saga by Lemony Snicket, released just prior to that series’ 13th and final volume. The book consists of thirteen letters, six from Beatrice Baudelaire II to Lemony Snicket, six from Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire, and one from Lemony Snicket to his editor (one of these appears in every book in the main series, but this is the first time such a letter has been incorporated into the plot).


David Llewelyn
Eleven (2006)

Form of Correspondence: Written entirely in the form of emails. The action of the novel is limited to a single day, between the hours of 9am and 5pm, addressing the shock and trauma of 9/11/2001.


Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After (2006)

Form of Correspondence: Written as a series of letters between cousins Kate and Cecy, and between their husbands, Thomas and James. Intriguingly, the authors created the text — their third collaboration — by writing letters to each other in character. All three novels are set in a magical version of Regency-era England, and several characters from Sorcery and Cecelia (1988) and The Grand Tour (2004) make appearances in The Mislaid Magician — familiarity with the first two novels, however, isn’t strictly necessary for enjoying the third.


Daniel Glattauer
Love Virtually (2006)

Form of Correspondence: A series of e-mails betwen Leo Leike and Emmi Rothner, which begins by error, when a single character is incorrect in an e-mail address, but continues into a full-fledged electronic relationship that is threatened by the concept of actually sharing pictures of each other or meeting in person.


Herbert Rosendorfer
Letters Back to Ancient China (2006)

Form of Correspondence: A 10th-century Chinese mandarin travels forward in time, and writes letters home reporting on the strange lands and peoples he encounters.


Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)

Form of Correspondence: A first-person narrative told by Arnold Spirit Jr. (a.k.a. “Junior”), an aspiring 14-year-old Native American cartoonist. Story is told primarily through Junior’s diary entries and his graphical cartoons.


Jeff Kinney
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (2007- )

Form of Correspondence: Greg Heffley, a middle-school boy, keeps a highly-detailed and illustrated diary, which chronicles his relationships with family, friends and enemies.


Shannon Hale
The Book of a Thousand Days (2007)

Form of Correspondence: Told through entries in a journal, named “The Book of A Thousand Days”, by Dashti, a lower-class “mucker” who acquires a position as handmaiden to a lady, and gets pulled into court intriques. Based on the Grimm’s fairy tale “Maid Maleen”.


Douglas Coupland
The Gum Thief (2007)

Form of Correspondence: Written as a collection of journal entries, notes, and letters written by various characters. Among these are regular installments of the characters in Roger’s novella, titled Glove Pond..


 width=Alice Kuipers
Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter: A Novel in Notes (2007)

Form of Correspondence: Told exclusively through notes exchanged by Claire and her mother, Elizabeth, during the course of a life-altering year. Their story builds to an emotional crescendo when Elizabeth is diagnosed with breast cancer.


Aravind Adiga
The White Tiger (2008)

Form of Correspondence: Balram Halwai,
a.k.a. the White Tiger, writes a series of letters to Chinese Premier
Wen Jiabao.
, offering a more idealized view of Bangalore than is commonly known.


Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008)

Form of Correspondence: Comprised primarily of a series of letters, written between several different characters, in 1946, as part of the efforts of the natives of the isle of Guernsey to rebel against German occupation during WWII.


Michael Kimball
Dear Everybody (2008)

Form of Correspondence: Jonathon Bender had something to say to the world, but the world wouldn’t listen. However, he left behind unsent letters addressed to relatives, friends, teachers, classmates, professors, roommates, employers, former girlfriends, his ex-wife, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the state of Michigan, and a weather satellite, among many others. These form the narrative of a remarkable life.


John Berger
From A to X: A Story in Letters (2008)

Form of Correspondence: Set in a fictional totalitarian regime. Consists of letters sent by A’ida, a young pharmacist, where she describes her everyday life as well as the lives of her friends and acquaintances. On the other side of most sheets there are Xavier’s notes. Xavier is A’ida’s lover, but has been imprisoned and given two life sentences.


Luane Rice and Joseph Monninger
The Letters (2008)

Form of Correspondence: In this remarkable collaboration, acclaimed writers Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger combine their unique talents to create, through a series of searching, intimate letters, a powerful novel of an estranged husband and wife—and the moment that changed the course of their lives forever.


Lucy Christopher
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor (2009)

Form of Correspondence: After a 16-year-old is kidnapped and smuggled into the Australian Outback by her 24-year-old kidnapper, the young woman writes a letter to her captor that addresses the odd relationship they find themselves in and the events that bring things to an expected conclusion.


Joey Comeau
Overqualified (2009)

Form of Correspondence: A novel told through a series of increasingly revealing, almost surreal cover letters (that would accompany job applications).


Adam Rapp
Punkzilla (2009)

Form of Correspondence: 14-year-old runaway Punkzilla sends a series of letters back home to his older sibling, who is dying of cancer in Memphis, with wry and painful observations about the people he’s encountered on the road.


David Ives
Voss (2009)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a series of letters from Vospop Vsklzwczdsztwcky (or Voss for short) to his best friend Meero Mrz, chronicling the adventures Voss and his depressive father and delusionary uncle have while attempting to immigrate to American illegally.


Joseph Alan Wachs and Jason Alan Franzen
Treehouse: A Found E-mail Love Letter (2009)

Form of Correspondence: Contains the provocative e-mails of an actual love affair carried out online over 14-years-ago during the advent of the Internet. The entire manuscript has been released as a series of tantalizing Appisodes™ to be enjoyed in the privacy of your own phone.


2010s

Jennifer Egan
A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010)

Form of Correspondence: A news article and a PowerPoint slide presentation on “Great Rock and Roll Pauses” feature prominently in this story.


Gene Wolfe
The Sorcerer’s House (2010)

Form of Correspondence: A succession of letters, mainly by protagonist Baxter Dunn to his estranged twin brother George, but including letters by Dunn to other parties, and letters received in response to some of his missives.


Amélie Nothomb
Life Form (2010)

Form of Correspondence: In this short novel features a fictional correspondence between Amélie Nothomb the writer, and Melvin Mapple, an obese lonely and anxious US Army soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. Through their correspondence, the two construct a separate, shared reality in text.


Gary Shteyngart
Super Sad True Love Story (2010)

Form of Correspondence: In the midst of the traditional prose narrative of this dystopian tale, all of the characters carry around a device called an äppärät, which can live-stream its owner’s thoughts and conversations, and broadcast their “hotness” quotient to others.


Tao Lin
Richard Yates (2010)

Form of Correspondence: Two young people — a 22-year-old author in Manhattan and a 16-year-old high school student at a school in New Jersey — are friends who initially met over the internet, and converse regularly through Gmail chat. Based on the complex real-life relationship of the author with poet E.R. Kennedy.


Lynn Coady
The Antagonist (2011)

Form of Correspondence: Told through a series of e-mails, written over the course of a summer by Gordon Rankin Jr., but spanning most of his life from his teenage years to his early middle age. Rank’s messages are an angry response to a recently published novel by an old college friend, Adam — a novel that borrows Rank’s life and depicts him as little more than a brooding menace driven by an “innate criminality.” Rank now wants to set the record straight, with a vengeance.


Daniel H. Wilson
Robopocalypse (2011) (followed by sequel Robogenesis in 2014)

Form of Correspondence: Parts of the story are told making use of witness interviews and security camera footage.


Daniel Handler
Why We Broke Up (2011)

Form of Correspondence: The story takes the form of a letter, with Min Green writing to Ed Slaterton, explaining why they had broken up. The letter accompanies a box full of minor objects that narrates the progress of their relationship, and is returned to Ed at the end of the letter. The box includes two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a lobby ticket, a box of matches, a pinhole camera, a folded note, a rubber band, a high school pennant, a toy truck, a recipe book, Pensieri, a fictional liquor, a protractor, a file, a concert ticket, an egg cuber, a polaroid, a comb from a motel room, a pair of ugly earrings, and several other items collected over the course of their relationship. Item after item is illustrated, accounted for, and placed in the box to be dumped — like an ex-girlfriend — on his front porch.


Isabel Allende
Maya’s Notebook (2011)

Form of Correspondence: After the death of her beloved grandfather, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal, turning to drugs, alcohol, and petty crimes, becomes trapped in a war between assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol, until her grandmother helps her escape to the remote island of Chiloé, off coast of Chile where she tries to make sense of her life. Maya, a young American on the run, records in her diary her adjustment to a new country, her drug problems, her romantic life, and other developments.


Rainbow Rowell
Attachments (2011)

Form of Correspondence: In long emails, Beth and Jennifer trade gossip over their romances — Beth with her marriage-phobic boyfriend, Chris, and Jennifer with her baby-mania-stricken husband, Mitch. What they don’t know is that their company’s newly hired computer guy, Lincoln O’Neill, an Internet security officer charged with weeding out all things unnecessary or pornographic, is reading their messages. The standard procedure would have been to give them a warning, however lonely Lincoln lets the gals slide on their inappropriate office mail and gets hooked on their soapy dalliances, falling head over heels for the unlucky-in-love Beth.


Christopher Priest
The Islanders (2011)

Form of Correspondence: A science fiction novel presented as a travel gazeteer, as written by a highly unreliable historian. Set in the same storytelling universe as Priest’s The Affirmation (1981) and short story collection The Dream Archipelago (1999).


Tracy R. Atkins
Aeternum Ray (2012)

Form of Correspondence: novel is a collection of emotional personal letters written by 240-year-old William Babington to his newborn son Ben. Having lived a full life, William has experienced everything from death to his rebirth into the utopian Aeternum; an advanced computer system shepherded by the omnipotent artificial intelligence Ray. William pens the highlights of his existence, love and loss while reflecting on the centuries of wonder he has witnessed firsthand. His humble letters form a detailed memoir that is intertwined with humanity’s greatest triumphs, the technological singularity, and the solemn burden of surviving Earth’s darkest night of terror.


Ali Smith
Artful (2012)

Form of Correspondence: This book is based on four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University, the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature. The four headings are “On Time”, “On Form”, “On Edge” and “On Offer and On Reflection”.


Maria Semple
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (2012)

Form of Correspondence: This tightly constructed novel is written in many formats — e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette another character.


Carlene Bauer
Frances and Bernard (2012)

Form of Correspondence: Written as a series of letters — often love letters — between a man and a woman who meet at an artists’ colony in the summer of 1957, exploring the growth of their relationship as they settle into a whirlwind life in New York City.


Mariama Ba
So Long a Letter (2012)

Form of Correspondence: Written literally as one long letter, from one woman to a life-long friend, and exploring the condition of life for women in Western African civilization.


Elizabeth Wein
Code Name: Verity (2012)

Form of Correspondence: A young adult novel of WWII espionage, told in two halves, from two different points-of-view. The first half is by a captured allies spy, being forced to write a confession of her background and mission. The second half is by the woman who must kill the captured spy to prevent her from being taken for experimentation, who receives a secret copy of the spy’s false confession and must use it to prevent further spies from being captured.


S.D. Chrostowska
Permission (2013)

Form of Correspondence: Consisting of anonymous e-mail messages sent by the author to an acclaimed visual artist over the course of a year, Permission is the record of an experiment: an attempt to forge a connection with a stranger through the writing of a book, and thus a search for fellowship in solitude, as well as a testimony to the isolating effects and creative possibilities of the digital age.


Mac Lethal
Texts From Bennett (2013)

Form of Correspondence: A family story for the twenty-first century, based on the phenomenally popular Texts from Bennett Tumblr blog, this epistolary novel chronicles the year that gangsta wannabe Bennett and the rest of his freeloading family moved into his cousin, hard-working Kansas City rapper, Mac Lethal’s household. Told largely in texts.


Sara Zarr
Roomies (2013)

Form of Correspondence: When East Coast native Elizabeth “EB” Owens receives her freshman year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren Cole sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room. As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives…and each other. Even though they’ve never met.


Katie Hall and Bogen Jones
The Closeness That Separates Us (2013)

Form of Correspondence: Told as a series of e-mails between strangers.


Hunter S. Jones
September Ends (2013)

Form of Correspondence: September Ends is contemporary fiction, blending romance, erotic and supernatural elements, bound together by poetry. It reveals the intricate web of passion and desire which entangles Liz Snow, Pete Hendrix and Jack O. Savage. The story is told through Liz Snow’s diary, Jack O. Savage’s poetry, and from letters sent across the Atlantic.


Katherine Reay
Dear Mr. Knightley (2013)

Form of Correspondence: An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Samantha Moore through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.


Alyson Foster
God is an Astronaut (2013)

Form of Correspondence: Narrated in emails, most of them written from Jessica Frobisher to Arthur Danielson, her colleague at the University of Michigan and possibly her lover.


Jessica Brockmole
Letters From Skye (2013)

Form of Correspondence: In a story spanning three decades, correspondence is key. Love letters between a British poet and an injured American student during World War I prove critical later, when the poet’s daughter begins her own pen pal relationship — which the poet warns against.


Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being (2013)

Form of Correspondence: Narrated by two characters, a sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl in Tokyo who keeps a diary, and a Japanese American writer living on an island off British Columbia who finds the diary washed up on shore some time after the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan.


Andy Weir
The Martian (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Comprised primarily of Astronaut Mark Watney’s personal journal entries, after a dust storm on the surface of Mars leaves him stranded when the rest of his exploratory team believe he’s lost and leave the planet to return home. A brilliant scientific mind, Watney’s records include lots of scientific details about the things he does to stay alive until a rescue mission can be sent to save him.


Julie Schumacher
Dear Committee Members (2014)

Form of Correspondence: A series of recommendation letters from a tired college professor (of creative writing and literature) on behalf of colleagues and students.


Susan Barker
The Incarnations (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Beijing taxi driver Wang Jun begins finding a series of letters from an unidentified person, left in his taxi, informing him that “his soulmate has found him again”. Are the letters legitimate, or is Wang Jun suffering a mental break?


Ava Dellaira
Love Letters to the Dead (2014)

Form of Correspondence: A first Young Adult novel by this author, told through a series of letters written by a girl named Laurel, who is grieving the recent mysterious death of her sister May.


Isabel Quintero
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Struggles with body image, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, rape, coming out, first love and death are all experiences that touch Gabi’s life in some way during her senior year, and she processes her raw and honest feelings in her journal as these events unfold.


Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Five secret letters, not expected to be sent, are sent to the five boys Lara Jean has loved at one time or another in her young life — and this novel deals with the repercussions of this unanticipated act.


Thomas Wharton
Every Blade of Grass (2014)

Form of Correspondence:


Mallory Ortberg
Texts From Jane Eyre (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Not a novel, but a series of short, humorous explorations of what it would have been like if some of the most memorable characters from classic literature had the ability to text or instant message. A whimsical collection of text conversations in the styles of favorite literary characters imagines what Scarlett O’Hara might say to tempt Ashley away from Melanie, Mr. Rochester’s passionate all-cap missives to Jane Eyre, and Daisy Buchanan’s orders while driving.


Priya Parmar
Vanessa and her Sister (2014)

Form of Correspondence: Emotionally intense fiction based on real-life sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Wolff (and the other “real” people in their orbit). Narrated by Vanessa in diary format, punctuated, as if in a scrapbook, by letters, tickets, bills and postcards.


Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Illuminae Files (trilogy) (2015-2018) (a.k.a. The Illuminae Chronicles)

Form of Correspondence: A science fiction trilogy (Illuminae, Gemina, Obsidio, with some related volumes) that’s part relationship drama, part thriller and part high-tech scifi. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more…


Susan Rieger
The Divorce Papers (2015)

Form of Correspondence: This explores the process and aftermath of a divorce, including the impact on the legal representation for the wife. The novel features a modern twist on the epistolary form, with the narrative being revealed through handwritten correspondence, office memos and emails, news articles and legal papers, and even floral delivery cards.


Indra Das
The Devourers (2015)

Form of Correspondence: In modern-day India, a lonely academic is hired by a mysterious new acquaintance, to transcribe a centuries-spanning saga of an immortal shape-shifter — a were-wolf.


Mathangi Subramanian
Dear Mrs. Naidu (2015)

Form of Correspondence: Young Adult novel about twelve-year old Sarojini lives in urban Bangalore with her mother. The novel plays out in letters that Sarojini writes to her long-dead namesake, the freedom fighter and poet Sarojini Naidu.


Viet Thang Nguyen
The Sympathizer (2015)

Form of Correspondence: Complex, multi-layered novel, focusing on various different types of duality…of caste, of education and of loyalties. The first person narration derives from the frame context for the book: a confession by the narrator to communist captors trying to make him account for his exile. The communist captors force him to write and rewrite the narrative, in an attempt to correct his ideological lens on America and the South Vietnamese enemies.


Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything (2015)

Form of Correspondence: This novel explores the relationship of Madeleine — a young woman suffering from Bubble Baby Disease and quarantined by her extremely protective mother — and Olly, the free-spirited young man who’s just moved in next door. Both are fascinated with the other — teen crushes — and must communicate by e-mails, texts and other electronic means. Also included: Lists in Madeleine’s handwriting.


Zachary Thomas Dodson
Bats of the Republic (2015)

Form of Correspondence: In the far future of 2143, the fate of the future may rely on an investigation into the past of 1843, in the form of letters, official documents, and a “book within the book”. Elements of both science fiction and westerns abound.


Patrick Sheane Duncan
Dracula vs. Hitler (2016)

Form of Correspondence: This follow-up to the classic horror novel Dracula posits that Dr. Abraham Van Helsing has kept Dracula cooped up for decades, until finding a use for him — bringing back the blood-sucker to do his dirty deeds against the Nazi menace. Much like the original novel, this features strong epistolary elements, such as journal entries, military reports, and even a novel within the novel, which educate the reader on Nazi atrocities, the resistance to them, and the background of the supporting characters. Different sources for these epistolary elements are presented in different fonts throughout the book.


Jesse Ball
How to Set a Fire and Why (2016)

Form of Correspondence: In this stark epistolary novel, the author fully occupies the inner life of a teenage girl, Lucia Stanton, who is writing down her experiences.


Kaui Hart Hemmings
How to Party With an Infant (2016)

Form of Correspondence: A single mother in San Francisco attempts to capture the success that’s so far eluded her, but entering into a book writing competition. Her book is comprised of recipes from her own life and from the lives of the members of her motherhood support group, and each recipe brings up other stories. The on-line interactions (via e-mails and message board postings) of the motherhood support group also play into this novel’s plot.


Sylvain Neuvel
Sleeping Giants (2016)

Form of Correspondence: Like Max Brooks’ World War Z, Sleeping Giants is built as an oral history. The author avoids conventional narrative altogether; in its place he uses a combination of journal entries, mission logs, official reports, news articles and interview transcripts. The interviews make up the bulk of the book.


Yi Shun Lai
Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Yu (2016)

Form of Correspondence: Focuses on four months of protagonist Marty Wu’s journal entries, including her fractious relationship with her demanding mother, and her many failures at career success. Marty started keeping the journal after reading recommendations to do so in one of several “Self-Up” books she’s tried to absorb, passages of which are also part of this story.


Eowyn Ivey
To the Bright Edge of the World (2016)

Form of Correspondence: This novel is based loosely on an actual 1885 Arctic expedition by Lt. Henry T. Allen. The author has built her narrative around a combination of fictional diary entries, mostly written by a Col. Forrester and his young wife Sophie, but she also creates newspaper stories, a museum guidebook to the artifacts from the expedition, and contemporary letters between one of Forrester’s descendants and a museum curator. In addition, there are period photographs, diagrams and excerpts from a book on obstetrics.


Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (2017)

Form of Correspondence: This science fiction adventure is told mainly in the form of journal entries by Melisande Stokes, a linguist who is a newly acquired agent of the time-traveling Department of Diachronic Operations, after she gets trapped back in an earlier era of time and decides to leave a written history of her misadventures in time.


Jennifer L. Ryan
The Chilbury Ladies Choir (2017)

Form of Correspondence: The stories of a group of church choir members in a period of 1940 are told through the women’s letters and journal entries.


Annie Spence
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Book in Her Life (2017)

Form of Correspondence: The author, a librarian, writes a series of letters and notes to the books in her collection — some of which she is “weeding” and removing from view, others of which she’s exasperated to understand why readers find appealing, and those exalted few that have earned a place of love and respect in her point of view.


Susan Rivers
The Second Mrs. Hockaday (2017)

Form of Correspondence: Diary entries and letters form the basis of this novel about one woman’s experiences during the Civil War. 17-year-old Placidia Fincher marries Gryffth Hockaday, as he heads away to the war, but various critical events occur before they are reunited two years later. She takes aThe novel takes collage approach to storytelling, advancing the narrative through letters between Placidia and a cousin, diary entries, and more letters, written decades later, which finally uncover the truth of Placidia’s circumstances.


Susanna Fogel
Nuclear Family: A Tragicomedy Novel in Letters (2017)

Form of Correspondence:

Told entirely in letters to a heroine we never meet, we get to know the members of the Feller family through their check-ins with Julie: their thank-you notes, letters of condolence, family gossip, and good old-fashioned familial passive-aggression. Together, their missives — some sardonic, others absurd, others heartbreaking — weave a tapestry of a very modern family trying (and often failing) to show one another they care.


Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Last Christmas in Paris (2017)

Form of Correspondence: Through a series of their letters, Evie (a somewhat pampered society girl) and Thomas (a soldier on the front lines) share their greatest hopes and fears — and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?


Autumn Chiklis
Smothered (2018)

Form of Correspondence: Smothered is told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that recent college grad Elouise “Lou” Hansen moves back home after college. Inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.


Adrienne Kisner
Dear Rachel Maddow (2018)

Form of Correspondence: High School student Brynn Harper’s life is complicated and she faces a lot of unexpected challenges. When a teacher creates an assignment of writing to a “celebrity hero”, Brynn chooses to write to journalist Rachel Maddow, who responds. The rest of the novel is told in a series of e-mails to Rachel that Brynn composes but saves in her “draft” folder — much like daily journal entries.


Matt Boren
Folded Notes From High School (2018)

Form of Correspondence: The folded notes collected for this book represent correspondence surrounding one Tara Maureen Murphy, senior at South High c. 1991-1992.


Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
This is How You Lose the Time War (2019)

Form of Correspondence: In the far future, a pair of experienced assassins from opposing sides in a multi-generational war, leave various forms of communication behind for each other as they travel through time, attempting to alter the very nature of reality. Through the course of their creative methods of correspondence, they grow to realize they have more in common with each other, than they do with their respective societies.


Ruth Ware
Turn of the Key (2019)

Form of Correspondence: Told in a series of letters from her place in prison, a former nanny explores the circumstances that led to her incarceration, including her taking care of children in a “smart house”, where things don’t quite seem right.


Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
To Night Owl From Dogfist (2019)

Form of Correspondence: Told through email and letter exchanges, as two young girls become best friends online.


Lauren Wilkinson
American Spy (2019)

Form of Correspondence: This fast-paced novel, chronicling the making of an American spy, is told with a framing sequence in which the central character is writing a letter to her young sons, to explain to their future selves why their young lives were turned upside down — in case she isn’t around any more to tell them in person.


2020s

Lauren Ho
Last Tang Standing (2020)

Form of Correspondence: This tale, of a Singapore single lady working her way up a corporate ladder, and facing family meddling in her love life, is told primary through Andrea Tang’s personal diary entries.


Ann Napolitano
Dear Edward (2020)

Form of Correspondence: Years after being the lone survivor of a tragic airplane crash, Edward Alder finds that one of the tools he can use to heal himself is to read (and respond to) the thousands of letters sent to him in the ensuing time.


Susanna Clarke
Piranesi (2020)

Form of Correspondence: The titular character, Piranesi, tells the entire story through a series of journal articles, which become increasingly unreliable as he comes across evidence that his own memories are faulty.


J. Michael Straczynski
Together We Will Go (2021)

Form of Correspondence: Much of the plot is told through newspaper ads, audio recording transcripts, e-mails, group text chats and other contemporary epistolary methods, contributed by a large group of characters.


Compiled 2019-2021 sdc | Last updated August 2021 sdc