Ella Minnow Pea

a novel in letters

Paperback, 208 pages

English language

Published Jan. 1, 2002 by Anchor Books.

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4 stars (19 reviews)

An epistolary novel set on a fictional island off the South Carolina coastline, Ella Minnow Pea brings readers to the hometown of Nevin Nollop, inventor of the pangram "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog." Deified for his achievement in life, Nevin has been honored in death with a monument featuring his famous phrase. One day, however, the letter Z falls from the monument, and some of the islanders interpret the missing tile as a message from beyond the grave. The letter Z is banned from use. On an island where the residents pride them-selves on their love of language, this is seen as a tragedy. They are still reeling from the shock when another tile falls. And then another...In his charming debut, first published in 2001, Mark Dunn took readers on a journey through the eyes of Ella Minnow Pea, a young woman forced to create another …

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Review of 'Ella Minnow Pea' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Ella Minnow Pea is a contrived fantasy set on an island of people who delight in flowery language. It features a small, old-fashioned courtship during what I would more likely describe as "a plague of letters".

It's fun and diverting. It's not difficult to read even when, about three-quarters through, it switches to using homophones instead of restricting words themselves.

The pace never rises above a gentle saunter. Don't think of it as some great literary achievement, but enjoy it for what it is.


  • Communal living -- Fiction.
  • Islands -- Fiction.
  • South Carolina -- Fiction.