This book was described as a book in letters, that is in fact the tagline of this novel. And, keeping in mind that I’m not always the brightest crayon in the pack, I didn’t quite realise that this meant that Ella Minnow Pea was an epistolary novel. Meaning, a novel literally comprised of letters between people on the small, fictional, island of Nollop. Now, this appeals to my inherent nosiness (reading other people’s correspondence, the scandal!), as well as my own personal romantic ideas of snail mail.
Nollop is a the hometown of the famous Nevin Nollop who is given credit for creating the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. The island has a statue of the man, who is well respected by all the islands inhabitants. The novel’s main interest develops at the memorial statue of Nevin Nollop, which houses the pangram on glued tiles. As it begins to wear and tear with age, some by some, the tiles of the pangram begin to fall off. As they do, the government of Nollop decide to take it upon themselves to banish the use of these letters, in verbal or written communication. And so, the correspondence between residents takes an obvious toll.
The novel has strong themes of censorship, and what it is like to live under a totalitarian rule, as well as lighter plots of love, and friendship. The format of the novel is refreshing and cleverly portrays just how difficult it becomes to communicate all manner of things with a dwindling alphabet. The novel also brings forward the strength of human spirit, and the unwillingness to bow down and accept the unacceptable just because it is being overbearingly forced upon you. It highlights the importance of fighting from the inside for justice and what is right, no matter how small your minority is. In this way, the novel works to be very inspiring, and is the perfect quick read that will tug on your consciousness and maybe push you to make some positive decisions about how you’re going to live your life with all your letters.