Reading sets up a chemical reaction.
Reading novels is alchemy.
An author starts the experiment. There’s a spark. A reader completes it.
And sometimes, just sometimes, the result is pure gold.
Readers give life to a novel.
As Ursula Le Guin wrote, “Stories are just little black marks on wood pulp until someone reads them and makes them live.” That’s what we celebrate here.
We invite you to share, too.
How our favourite novel feature works
- You say which novel you’d like to write about and why. Contact Sophie here to tell us
- We’ll send you the mundane details about length and so on (boring but sadly necessary)
- Then you write! Be spontaneous. Tell us why you LOVE it. This is about your reading experience of the book, not a formal review or, God help us, an academic critique. (We can tidy spelling and even grammar, if that helps!)
- Don’t feel you have to defend your beloved book against other contenders. In real life people have many favourites.
- We’ll post on this page the pieces that we think will most move, intrigue and/or enlighten readers, us included. We’re aiming for a good spread of genres and authors.
- Readers will be able to leave comments on this page and on published Love Letters, too.
Click if you’d like to sign up for the Feed of updates to this page. Or click on the Feed button in the sidebar. (Sadly, this feature doesn’t appear to work if your browser is Google Chrome, as Joanna has discovered, to her annoyance.)
Now we’re publishing our first Love Letters from readers. We hope there will be lots more. Perhaps from you?
Love Letter to Kingsblood Royal from Peter Waller
This is not quite a love letter … more perhaps a sudden infatuation.
Kingsblood Royal begins conventionally. Its hero, Neil Kingsblood is a 30 year-old, recently invalided out of the Army and living the American good life in Minnesota. Neil’s father has a fanciful notion that the “Kingsblood” name derives from the English royal family. During his research, Neil discovers that several generations back on his mother’s side, one of his ancestors had been pure black. It changes Neil’s life. It might seem fanciful now but, at that time in America, the prevailing view was that one black ancestor made a man irredeemably black. So Neil, though red-haired, is now black…
Love Letter to Magician from David R
Magician was a chance purchase at a university book sale. I bought it purely because it was a fantasy novel and was most probably good value. (It’s a lot of book for the £2 they were asking in the book sale.)
I was hooked almost as soon as I started reading. Right from the beginning when we’re introduced to the two young boys who will be the principal characters, Pug and Tomas, the story is compelling, and it stays compelling as they grow into men with powers that will shape the destiny of two worlds.
Love Letter to Lorna Doone from Beth Elliott
The wild background of the moors and the rhythm of farm life that binds the people to the land appeals to me. The initial murder of John Ridd’s father makes me burn for him to take revenge on the villainous Doones.
Below are excerpts from two earlier love letters written from inside the Libertà hive.
Love Letter to The Martian from Sophie Weston
It sets up a series of dilemmas, many deadly, all apparently irresolvable. And then a cast of heartbreakingly believable characters applies brain, body and will to their bit of the disaster. And little by little, things begin to shift.
The stakes are life or death right from the start – and then they escalate!
Love Letter to The Grand Sophy from Joanna Maitland
Why do I love this book? Because it makes me laugh. And makes me marvel.
Lady Ombersley is persuaded to take in her motherless niece, Sophy, while her diplomat brother travels to Brazil. As a kindness, she agrees to try to find a husband for the poor little thing…
The little thing turns out to be a maypole who stands five feet nine inches in her stockinged feet and has accompanied her father all over Europe, during the Napoleonic Wars and after. She is friendly with everyone who matters and many who do not…