A LIFE IN LETTERS: Ann Landers' Letters to Her Only Child

Margo Howard, Author . Warner $22 (391p) ISBN 978-0-446-53271-6

Landers (1918–2002) penned thousands of letters to troubled strangers during her many newspaper years, but in writing to her daughter, the advice columnist's personality comes through with more clarity than was ever evident in her published work. Howard has amassed a staggering collection of Landers's letters, which span 40 years and range widely in subject matter and tone. Several notes refer to the famous feud between Landers and her twin sister, Pauline (aka Dear Abby). There are gossipy moments, as when Landers writes about a socialite who's had a facelift so disastrous she's unrecognizable. Unfortunately for those who like such dish, Howard is disappointingly ethical, concealing names and identifying information. However, this strategy is effective in taking the attention away from the occasional catty jab and focusing more closely on the book's real strength, which is showing Landers as the loving, flawed, sometimes even surprisingly dull person that she was. Beyond the occasional mentions of celebrities or TV appearances, the columnist's letters are simply notes mailed from a mother to a daughter, and anyone who's sent or received similar missives will feel pangs of identification. There's praise and encouragement, shock over allowance squandering during college days and, quite often, a healthy dose of nagging. Some letters are downright yawn inducing, with sentences like, "Daddy and I are planning on coming to Parents' weekend on Friday." While these kinds of entries can be trying, they provide a profile of Landers that will thrill fans of her work and be of interest to letter-writing mothers and daughters everywhere. Agent, Bob Barnett. (Oct. 8)

Forecast: A barrage of media—including radio ads, print ads and a Today show appearance—guarantee hefty sales for Howard's book. It should be a popular holiday gift.

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Show other formats
Hardcover - 639 pages - 978-0-446-53315-7
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.