cover image Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Nina Sankovitch. Simon & Schuster, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4516-8715-6

Perfect for devotes of pen and paper, Sankovitch’s (Tolstoy and the Purple Chair) new book examines her personal correspondence with family and friends and the letters of strangers, famous and obscure, and shows the reading of letters to be a pleasurable form of discovery and connection. In addition to insightful commentary on the liberating “cloak of privacy” that letters enjoy, Sankovitch details her experiences discovering letters in a shed in her new home, in a bookstore, and on a visit to a museum, as well as describing the paper on which the letters were written and the quality of the handwriting. Sankovitch looks at friendships and loves that are discovered and maintained through letters (for example, Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman), letters written to advice columnists, and final correspondences. Famous names cited here include Heloise and Abelard, Gertrude Stein, Thornton Wilder, and Edward Gorey, but the book’s highlight turns out to be communications between lesser-known authors, for example, two childhood friends turned lovers or two free black women in love in the pre–Civil War North. The book is an enjoyable, if sentimental read and will likely inspire both old-fashioned letter reading and letter writing. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Apr.)