Monday, March 9, 2009


I'm a pretty good penpal.

Believe it or not, I still keep in touch with my very first best friend. Her name is Lydia and we were introduced at birth by our parents who lived in the same married student trailer court. (...I know, but it was cool in the seventies, right?)

Although we were separated by 40 miles, Lydia and I wrote letters all through elementary, junior and high school. We'd meet up every few years, which was fun. But the real excitement of our friendship was found in the writing, folding, licking and stamping. I can still remember her childhood address...541 N. Pleasant Circle. I must have printed it a million times.

We've grown up and live on opposite sides of the country now. But we still have plenty in common. Both of us graduated from the same university and became schoolteachers. (Not bad for trailer trash, huh?) We both love to read. We both have twins. We're both too busy to write letters anymore. But I do look forward to our annual Christmas card exchange.

Lydia wasn't my only penpal. I've always been a letter writer. My wise parents encouraged this hobby and kept me happily supplied with pens, stamps, paper and envelopes. One of my all time favorite birthday gifts was my first set of personalized stationery. I've been a notecard collector ever since.

These days blogging is my letter-writing. And when I think of it as correspondence, I feel a lot better about it. All those Jane Austen ladies spent hours composing witty messages at their little desks. Just because I'm not dipping a feather into an inkwell, doesn't mean my writings are frivolous.

Today I finished the most wonderful book of letters. (Not the New Testament...Paul is totally the patron saint of penpals, but I can only absorb a few pages at a time.)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is everything I love in a novel--historical, romantic, funny, educational and surprising. Check out the following preview, then check out the book, share it with a friend, or send it to your penpal!


Meg said...

My curiosity is peaked. It's on my to read list for sure!

Love the book trailer videos. It just makes books seem that much more alive and being that I am a visual person it grabs me a little bit more.

diane said...

Dear Gabi,
I sent off a little correspondence of my own today. Though it is not signed I think you will recognize it is from me.
Thanks for your concern.
Your blog pal,
Ms. Diane Shoesday

Lauren in GA said...

"Not bad for trailer trash, huh?" I love it.

I agree with you. Your writing is never frivolous.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i too have been a letter writer. e-corrsepondance has robbed me of the desire to continue that skill. blah.

just this week i broke out the old nancy drew series from my childhood. in it, my kids found a letter i wrote to my friend in 3rd grade. it was embellished with cabbage patch kid stamps. they mocked me openly.

Missy said...

I loved, loved, loved this book! One of my favorites for sure. I just read it a few weeks ago and, like you, it made me long for the letter writing days. I, too, was a letter writer and only wish I could, in my correspondence, be as witty and charming as the delightful characters in this book!

TravelinOma said...

#1: Living in a trailer as a newlywed WAS cool in the 70's. It meant we owned our own home!!

#2: You are a fabulous correspondent with clever, thoughtful notes for every occasion. I remember you had a pen-pal relationship with Julie Andrews!

#3: I am so happy to have a review of this book. I've looked at it time and again, wondering if I'd like it.

#4: In the book Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers tells Mrs. DeWinter that the morning room is where she should do her correspondence. I think of that when I sit down to blog. (It might be even nicer if Firth laid a fire for me.)

martha corinna said...

Beautiful! Thank you for the suggestion.

Here I go again, but I found a book of letters while listening to radio west that I am captivated by. It is (I don't know how to underline in the comment section) Behind the Lines, a legacy of war letters. The letters of these soldiers dating back to WWI are beautiful windows into the soul of humanity and reveal painful poetry. I don't know if there is anything more revealing than a sincere letter.
I'll have to give your book a go.

Holly said...

Oh I LOVED that book to pieces, hated for it to end. So, so, so good.

I wish I could have experienced that time of Victorian (or Austenesque) correspondence. But not the corsets and layers of clothes. I think of the letters between our founding fathers and their spouses (esp. Abigail Adams) and am so thankful much of their correspondence is part of history. Martha Washington burned her letters though.

Have you read 84 Charing Cross road? It's very brief, but delightful. It's a record of correspondence between a New York writer and a British bookseller.

Anonymous said...

Cool! I'll have to read that book! Thanks for the review!

Lisa R.D. said...

Oh, I can't wait to read this! It's on our list for Book Club in just a couple of months.... thanks for sharing your insight!

Rochelleht said...

LOVE that book.

And of COURSE you're a great penpal. Is this blog not one big letter to a bunch of fun penpals? I thought so.

Bridget said...

I love your writing style. I am sure you are a most excellent penpal. I am adding this book to me to read list now. Thanks.

calibosmom said...

Ohhh, this looks good! I'm all about history mixed with anything. I just picked up an oldie but goodie-The Kitchen God's Wife.

Ilene said...

Ah, I have this marked on my to read list and unfortunately so do 80 other people from my library. I hope to read it before the year's end!

My cousin and I were pen pals for years. It was the best.

Amanda D said...

Ooh, I've heard good things about this book, thanks for the review! And, I'm so impressed with your pen pal success.

Meg said...

I thought about the grandkids. But I just can't hang on to it that long. Plus I really want to upgrade my camera body and it gave me $30 to put in that fund.

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