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September 5, 2008 / Mary Ann


One of my most favorite things to read is an epistolary type book. I had to look epistolary up to make sure I was using it correctly, but it is a book written as a series of documents, generally letters or diary entries. Think of The Diary of Anne Frank. (Edited next morning, the actual book title is The Diary of a Young Girl. The book was in a crossword puzzle.) Two other favorites are Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s A Woman of Independent Means and Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road. Interesting, all 3 of these books have been made into movies. Hailey’s was a TV movie I think. You wouldn’t think that a book of letters or or diary entries would translate well to a movie, but in the case of Anne Frank’s diary and Hanff’s story, both were memorable movies. I can only think right now of the movie in which Millie Perkins was Anne, but I’m sure there have been more.
84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favorites both as a book and as the movie with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. The Hailey book is a novel, but the other two are non-fiction.
I saw a review somewhere of a new book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I got it at the library the other day. Quite delightful so far. It takes place at the end of World War II in England. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was “a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans.” (description from the book jacket). I predict I’ll have the book done by the end of the weekend. Two reasons for the appeal to me of epistolary books — the “chapters” or letters are generally short, this may be a shallow reason to like the style, but sometimes I just need a book to read in small chunks at a time. I think the main reason is that I always want to keep reading to see what comes next. When the book is in letters, Jane writes to John and you want to read John’s reply.
I don’t know what kind of magnet it is that draws me to World War I or II, usually II, books. I’m also reading a book right now about a detective named Maisie Dunn, it takes place right after WW I. This book and TGL&PPS are not, so far as I have gotten into them, graphic war novels. But I just finished listening to a very graphic audio book by Chris Bohjalian, Skeletons at the Feast, about a group of German refugees who have to leave their homes. Several months ago I listened to The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Both of these were very interesting novels, very real, very hard to listen to at times, but so very compelling.
How many books do I read at any one time? I better not count. I got into a Ravelry group that talks about books. I’m adding to list of must-reads far too frequently.

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