Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Love Letter of Great Men and Women by Ursula Doyle (editor)

Description (from Goodreads):
From the private papers of Jane Austen and Mozart to those of Anne Boleyn and Nelson, "Love Letters of Great Men and Women" collects together some of the most romantic letters in history. For some of these great men, love is a 'delicious poison' (William Congreve); for others, 'a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music' (Charles Darwin). Love can scorch like the heat of the sun (Henry-VIII), or penetrate the depths of one's heart like a cooling rain (Flaubert). But what about the other side of the story? What of the secret hopes and lives of some of the greatest women in history? Taken together, these love letters show that perhaps little has changed over the last 2,000 years. Passion, jealousy, hope and longing are all represented here - as is the simple pleasure of sending a letter to, and receiving one from, the person you love most. This title includes letters by: Anne Boleyn; Beethoven; Edith Wharton; Mark Twain; Mary Wordsworth; Nell Gwyn (mistress of Charles-II); Elizabeth Barrett Browning; GK Chesterton; Queen Victoria; Napoleon Bonaparte; The Empress Josephine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Amadeus Mozart; and, Katherine Mansfield.

My thoughts: First of all, I just want to note that this book does not include love letters by Jane Austen even though the description says so. But even though I always love some Austen, this book was pretty good without it. 

Since I watched the Sex and the City movie I've been wanting to buy one of those love letter books there are in the bookstores. When I was hanging around at the Waterstone's at London I found this one and had to buy it since it looked so good. And I am happy I did since this was delightful, a lot different read. I don't really read that much of nonfiction and I think this was actually the first letter book I've ever read. 

The fact that these letters were actually written by someone is amazing. Some of the letters are so full of emotion, especially love. I just wish I could receive letters like the letters in this book. My favorites were the letters by John Keats, Lord Byron and Amadeus Mozart. From my favorites it is evident that I enjoyed more that part with letters from men to women even though the both parts of the book were good.

If you are looking for a light non-fiction read, this book is a perfect pick for you. And I never thought reading old letters could be that interesting. I have this book called "800 years of women's letters" or something like that in my bookshelf and I think I will pick it up soon. And I also have Jane Austen's collected letters which I haven't read yet. 

I know there are many different collections of love letters at bookstores and since I haven't read any other ones I cannot compare this to anything. But I think that the variety of the type of letters and the variety of writers made this an interesting read.


  1. Great review! I read this book and there are some really nice letters to be read.

  2. There indeed is. I really loved for example letter by John Keats. I've been trying to look for the Brightest Star book which I think has about 99 letters by John Keats. Sadly I was not able to find it in English from the local bookstores. :(


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