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Thanks Cornflower for this suggestion. I would never have picked it up otherwise, I am sure. I was reading this at work when someone across the table read the title out loud and the light bulb went off: LMNOP = Ella Minnow Pea. I wonder how many other little things I missed. Quite a bit, no doubt.

I did think it was terrific. The fun and games dissipated a bit when the book began to remind me of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, but it was generally an amusing and charming book, worth the read if only to improve my vocabulary! Like you, I also very much enjoyed the inventive use of language, such as the substitution of “crepuscular-to-auroric” for “dusk to dawn”.

If there were a real island of Nollop, it would be interesting to visit. I like the idea of a society (before the events of the book take place at least) that reveres language and letter writing.


I was looking forward to this book, the description having caught my imagination and so I was disappointed not to enjoy it.

The basis for the plot was ingenius and I loved the concept. I am sure that I also missed lots of the clever hidden word & letter plays but I fear that this was because I was not finding the characters interesting and my attention was forever off on its holidays.

The plot concerning how a simple but rigid belief gradually painted the council into an extreme position and how submissive & accepting humanity can be, reminded me a little of Animal Farm, a book which I love. I was unable to empathise with the characters and I wonder if it is the writing technique that is a problem for me. On refection, I can't think of a book written using letters between characters which has appealed.

So I 'm glad to have read it, for the fun of the plot but I'm glad it's over now!


I really enjoyed this book too, very ingenious and a clever way to address the issue of censorship while remaining an entertaining read


One Ella of a book! A witty and at the same time Orwellian linguistic tour de force that everyone who likes words should read.

As a cryptic crossword buff I loved this book. The grammar/substitutions really exercised the grey matter and the phonic spelling toward the end was inspired! Years of marking came to my rescue there...

It's a breezy read that I've already recommended to fellow book group enthusiasts.

How many letters of the alphabet could you do without?

Barbara MacLeod

I'm with Sandy on this one. I really didn't enjoy it though I can see the cleverness of the author's rather original idea of dropping one letter after the other right to the end. I read it to the end but found the letter-writing format back and forth ranked the story down at the level of school childrens' bletherings.

I hasten to add I did not like Gullivers Travels in the dim and distant pass so am glad this book was considerably shorter! Yes, I think if you are a Scrabble fan, or crossword lover, this is for you!


I picked this one up in Waterstones a few weeks ago and then put it back again! As you highly recommend it I think I'll get it now.


A good read. I had a hard time with the phonetic spelling at the end but that did not diminish the enjoyment of the book.

Julie Fredericksen

My book club and I enjoyed it when we read it some years back. I remember it creating a lot of discussion. We spent a lot of time on how it paralleled the conditions in Nazi Germany as freedoms were taken away one by one. You take away one letter - not so bad. You have to wear a star - not so bad.

But then more letters disappear, more freedoms disappear: Observing curfews, no fur coats, no pets, no bicycles, certain foods denied, no cigarettes or tobacco. Still, having fewer letters can be a challenge and even fun; having fewer freedoms can be restrictive but life goes on.

But then more letters disappear and it gets really tough to communicate. More freedoms disappear and you can't own cars, go to school, own a business, practice law or medicine, take public transportation or own radios. Life for Jews practically grinds to a halt. Finally there is nothing left, no hope, only despair and in the end, death.

By the way, the epistolary form of novel is not my favorite either, but I don't think it could have been written in conversational form.

Mr Cornflower

The central idea of the book is a brilliant stroke of imagination. Yes, I did find the main characters rather vague and indistinct but perhaps that is less a weakness than a conscious way of getting us to focus on the story. I understand this is the first novel of a successful playwright; I hope he writes some more.


It was a clever idea and I am sure that I have missed little things too. I was reminded of both Animal Farm and the events that happened within Nazi Germany. Thanks too for the sugguestion as I doubt that I would have picked this book up on my own accord.


I'm a little late to the party again as no internet at home, sorry.
I read this a few months ago for my own interest and I was surprised that the constraints of writing in this way weren't more constraining or obvious. I think it's a great success, an exercise but a well-executed one.

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