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Ella Minnow Pea [Paperback]

Mark Dunn
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Paperback £7.19  
Paperback, 30 July 2002 --  

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd; First Edition edition (30 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413772470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413772473
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"...incredibly funny, incredibly charming..." Natalie Haynes -- A Good Read, BBC Radio 4, 2nd June 2009

"The most original novel I have ever read ... everyone should read it" Sarah Broadhurst
-- The Bookseller


"The most original novel I have ever read ... everyone should read it" Sarah Broadhurst

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars L, M, N, O, P! 16 Feb 2006
With Ella Minnow Pea, Dunn has created a truly original work of fiction. The story is a witty comment on the perils of fundamentalism, with hilarious results. His mastery of linguistic experiment is utterly innovative and unreservedly shrewd.
The island, Nollop, named after the great Nevin Nollop, (creator of the pangram: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’), is thrown into a furore after letters begin to drop one by one from the said phrase proudly displayed under the commemorative statue to Nevin in the town square. The local council, believing this to be a sign of profound significance issue an edict dictating that inhabitants must not use any of the letters that have fallen in any of their discourse or correspondence, as that would clearly contravene what appears to be a kind of divine pronouncement. Hilarity ensues.
The book is entirely comprised of the letters of correspondence to and from the eponymous Ella Minnow Pea (a pun, I believe on the alphabetical order: L, M, N, O, P…) as friends, lovers and family talk about their predicament. Slowly but surely, more and more letters begin to fall and the pool of letters from which to communicate grows ever smaller. Dunn masterfully imparts the dilemmas of Ella and company as they seek to write to each other and very skilfully manages to bring their correspondence to life, despite few, if any standard English words being available towards the end of the book. The prose (if one can call it that!) is extremely inventive and very amusing.
This is a biting satire and illuminates explicitly the farcical nature of such fundamentalist obsessions. There is a somewhat darker element to the tale however, which is slowly revealed through the correspondence.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the quick brown fox...... 1 Oct 2003
By Shelley Wood VINE VOICE
every so often a book comes along that is so fresh, so new, so different and imaginitive it blows the competion away. Famous examples of this are the "left behind" series of books, "memoirs of a geisha" and most famously the lord of the rings. while not as epic as LOTR or as heartbreaking as memoirs.. this book is written with such imagination wit and skill it deserves much much more recognition that it has had. the basic storyline can be read in the amazon review so i wont bore you by repeating it here but one has to wonder where do these ideas come from?
the book is short a "single sitting" read and written entirley in the form of letters between various people. As the various letters disspapear from the monument in the story the contents of the correspondence begin to take on a surreal quality and one can imagine people sat in the village only using the alloted letters suddently shouting phrases such as "ahoy! frog makes dead jam!" and then lapsing back into silence so much of the final passages of the book are spent in wonder as you see that even with 15 letters the authour can still get these letters to make some coherent (if slighty bizarre) sense. i re read this book many times looking for mistakes one of the forbidden letters used for example but could find none and was left in awe of this writing talent!
definatley one to read give it the popularity it deserves.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, funny, original 21 Dec 2003
I write this on Nollop on October 13. They say that it is illegal to use letters D, F, J, K, Q, Z. Thus, this is my review about this marvellous thing. It's brilliant. I turn through it in a single one-more-than-three hour sitting while anticipating my aeroplane leaving. It gets more yet more inventive all the way through. It has a clever twist, a clever title. It is especially marvellous because writers have to use variable expressions, as am I, to postulate amongst themselves about what is going on. There is a small portion three-sixths through where I perceive it is a literary excercise, but that might have been the sleep starting: but it cleverly moves up a gear anyway. Brilliant. (Oh, and writing that was very difficult indeed!!)
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Fantastical Treat 27 Mar 2004
By Kid Ad
This is a hugely enjoyable epistolary lipogram about the tragic aftermath of the infamous Nollopian pangram (they tell you what those words mean at the start of the book, just to make you feel smart before you need to reach for your dictionary on page one). Who could have thought "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" could cause so much trouble?
This is a novel about corrupting, political power that Orwell himself would be proud of. On a tiny island the author of the above infamous sentence is revered as a god, being the only islander to have accomplished anything. A statue celebrating his sentence begins to crumble and lose the tiles, so the council decides to bar islanders from using the fallen letters. The story is told through notes between the struggling islanders and in an ever decreasing vocabulary. The surprise is that Dunn still manages to use beautiful and intricate language, each sentence is a joy to savour. A rare find; a fantastically imaginative story written in a deliciously rich and thoughtful manner to celebrate language.
This is undoubtedly one of the greatest debut novels we've ever been treated to.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a great story, but so, so clever!! 8 Jan 2004
By A Customer
Ok, dont' read this book if you want an amazing story. If you do, you will be disappointed.
However, if you want to be blown away by sheer unadulterated cleverness with words, then you will be amazed by this book. Throughout the story, certain letters of the alphabet are banned, and thus, the author can't use these letters either. By the end of the book he only has a few letters left, and yet still manages to keep the (admittedly rather bizarre)story cohesive.
Clever, Daring, and lord knows how difficult this book must have been to write. Read it. It will be unlike anything else you read this year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't say this is a book I would ever read ...
Can't say this is a book I would ever read again, but it was an interesting read all the same.
Published 24 days ago by maggi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An excellent short read, very satirical and witty. As expected creative use of language!
Published 1 month ago by ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An absolutely fantastic book, loved ever page.
Published 2 months ago by Anides97
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A really enjoyable read that was a little different from most of the books I usually gravitate towards. Read more
Published 2 months ago by DaveF
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm very impressed with the effort and skill that went into this book...
A very unique writing style. I'm very impressed with the effort and skill that went into this book as well as the great story
Published 2 months ago by Jacob Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, clever, novel
Ella Minnow Pea was my Book Club's book this month, so I didn't really choose it per se, but I'm being more selective about what I give my precious reading time to and I'm really... Read more
Published 6 months ago by R. A. Davison
5.0 out of 5 stars best book
A book written on 3 levels. One of the most interestingly written books I have ever read. One should heed the consequences of just following the crowd.
Published 6 months ago by Margaret Adnitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Really clever!
Such a clever book, lent out to family almost immediately after finishing it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in words.
Published 6 months ago by Eleanor Odell
3.0 out of 5 stars A light but clever read which tales off towards the end
I enjoyed this book, the concept is very clever, the way the book progresses as the letters disappear is done in a very clever way. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Manda Moo
4.0 out of 5 stars What a delight.
OK, so you've done the hard part and actually discovered this little book. Now the easy part is shelling out a few pounds and buying it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. Lee
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