I hadn’t quite expected this to be so good. In fact, I futzed around and failed to really start it for about four weeks (or maybe longer). But there was some point, maybe around page 80, when I seem to have flipped a switch; suddenly all I wanted to do was finish the book. It’s lovely and wonderful, and I would certainly recommend it to pretty much anyone who has any interest in epistolary novels, or female protagonists in post-Napoleonic Wars England, or magic, or even just fun stories. To be clear, given how readily I’ve bounced off of other similar characters before, I had no idea how much fun they could be.
Sorcery & Cecelia (which I have learned, much to my delight, is part of a series) was written back in the 80’s as a Letter Game. Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer decided to write letters to each other in the voice of their two respective characters, relating gossip and intrigue, and telling each other about the fabulous and exciting things which they were each getting up to. When they’d finished their game, they looked at their collection of letters and realized that they’d basically already written a novel. With some editing for details, continuity, and pacing, they found that they had a perfectly acceptable manuscript, and then managed to get it published. I am exceedingly glad that they did.
Look, I don’t want to ruin any of the book for you by mentioning things. Suffice it to say that the two main characters’ adventures and intrigues make excellent reading, and Kate and Cecilia are absolutely brilliant as heroines who must vanquish their antagonists, while carefully acting within the constraints imposed on them by society. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It’s really quite good.
p.s. Thank you to the visitor who recommended this to me one morning in Mama Dorr’s kitchen. I wish I could remember your name to thank you properly, especially after the excellent conversation we had about epistolary stories and your research into the subject. [Edit: The visitor was Naomi, but I appear to have misattributed the recommendation! It was still an awesome conversation, but Thomas may have been the original source. I might manage to get to the bottom of this. Maybe.]