Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Fiction/Epistolary Novel, Published 2001
Received from paperbackswap.com
Read March 2010
From the Cover:
Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression and a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.
The Nollopians are proud people. They are especially proud of their most noted citizen, Nevin Nollop. They even have a statue of him in the town square with a sign of his notable sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” When letters start falling from the old dilapidated sign, the local government decides it is a sign from the grave, from Nollop himself, telling his fellow Nollopians that the said letter can no longer be used. While this first appears to only be an annoying inconvenience with the letters Z and Q, it quickly becomes outrageously amusing for the reader to see how our favorite cousins Ella and Tassie will continue to communicate without the unlawful letters. It truly is a mastery of wordmanship!
But Ella and Tassie do not find their dire situation amusing, not one bit! They are simply outraged that their once trusted and beloved home of proud word lovers has become quite empty with more and more fellow Nollopians excommunicated back to the States and their letters becoming shorter and shorter, fearing they may slip up and they will find themselves leaving Nollop for good. Soon even the governing body finds it hard work around such few letters and commands that if someone comes up with a better, shorter pangram than Mr. Nollop, all the letters will be allowed back on the island. As Miss Ella Minnow Pea becomes one of the last remaining Nollopians left, the pressure is on for her to work out such a sentence. Can she do it? The last few letters are continually falling off and all that are left are L-M-N-O-P…
I loved Tassie and Ella from the start. They explain that they must write letters across their little Nollopian island, simply because for some reason, even they do not understand, the phone lines cannot be connected and until they can find a string long enough to tie two cans together, they will continue to write to each other daily. I absolutely love epistolary novels and this one is sure to hit the spot with all the true bibliophiles who love each and every one of the 26 letters.