A Novel in Letters
by J. Wynn Rousuck
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 07 May 2024
From the whimsical imagination of author J. Wynn Rousuck comes a quirky, heartwarming, and unforgettable tale. Written entirely in letters, Please Write chronicles the unlikely correspondence between two dogs and a human. The story that emerges is as profound as it is playful.
In the opening letter, Winslow, a noble Boston Terrier, writes to Grandma Vivienne complaining about the arrival of a muddy, mixed-breed puppy, rescued off the streets of Baltimore and dubbed “Zippy.” Despite personality clashes, the dogs gradually bond, offering each other — and their owners —joy when times are good and comfort when times are tough.
Winslow, a highly literate canine, painstakingly teaches spirited Zippy to read and write, using headlines in the newspapers that are spread on the kitchen floor. Zippy’s enthusiastic letters to Vivienne recount her antics and ambitions. Winslow’s letters express increasing concern about the dogs’ owners, Pamela and Frank, whose marriage is unraveling.
Writing from the Cleveland home where Pamela grew up, Vivienne sends unwavering support and affection, as well as greeting cards, recipes, and homemade gifts. Her letters also share the challenges facing Pamela’s mother, a recently widowed artist. And, if Vivienne bears a certain resemblance to Pamela’s mother … well, that might explain why the letters frequently say things mother and daughter cannot.
Combining the canine viewpoint of A Dog’s Purpose with the poignant epistolary style of The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society, Please Write delivers a distinctive account of coping with heartbreak and loss through the power of imagination and love. With equal doses of wisdom and humor, Rousuck’s enchanting debut novel reminds us that, even in the darkest moments, there’s hope — especially when dogs are in our lives!
A Note From the Publisher
1. Universal Themes: At its heart, this novel intertwines threads of familial love, the complexities of human relationships, and the bittersweet tang of loss, showcasing them all through the innocent and profoundly humorous lens of dogs. These themes resonate with everyone, across all walks of life.
2. A Refreshing Format: Drawing comparisons to iconic titles like "A Dog’s Purpose" and "The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society," "Please Write" offers readers a compelling narrative solely through letters. This format is both nostalgic and refreshing in today's digital age.
3. Relevance to Contemporary Issues: Beyond the canine charm, the story paints an honest portrayal of marital strife and challenges faced by grieving individuals, offering hope and reassurance that love and understanding can guide us through even the darkest hours.
4. Endorsements That Speak Volumes: Celebrated authors and professionals alike, from realms as diverse as journalism, medicine, and even dog ownership, have lauded the story's unique brilliance. Their testimonials underscore the novel's widespread appeal and relatability.
5. A Glimpse Behind the Curtain: J. Wynn Rousuck's stellar background – from her Pulitzer-nominated work to her enriching experience teaching writing and theater – adds depth and layers to her storytelling. Moreover, her connection with Boston Terriers brings an authentic touch to the narrative, making it deeply personal.
6. A Testament to Human & Canine Bond: This isn’t just a book for dog lovers; it's a tribute to the silent, unwavering companionship our pets provide, reminding readers of the joys, comforts, and lessons these furry friends bring into our lives.
The world today, more than ever, needs stories that inspire, uplift, and bring smiles. "Please Write" is not just a book; it’s a warm embrace on a cold night, a ray of sunshine through gray clouds, and a gentle reminder of the beauty that exists in shared moments of joy and sorrow.
We firmly believe that this heartwarming tale of Winslow, Zippy, and the human lives they touch will resonate deeply with a large general audience, and inspire poignant discussions and reflections.
“Please Write is a charming, lovely, sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious book about dogs and the people who love them. It is a gift to dog lovers everywhere.”
—JULIE KLAM, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF YOU HAD ME AT WOOF
“Oh my goodness. J. Wynn Rousuck’s Please Write is not just a pleasure to read, it’s a sheer delight. What a splendid, sly, daring act of imagination—a perfectly executed bildungsroman about a puppy! I laughed so often and so loudly that I managed to annoy my kind husband. I’ve already recommended it to friends, and will force it upon them if they don’t run out and get it. No one with a heart and a sense of humor should miss this book. (I will add that I read a few pages from it to my own dog. She is no longer a puppy, but she retains vivid memories of her own puppyhood and nodded in recognition more than once.) Perfectly titled, Please Write is charming, shapely, wise, hilarious, true, and deeply satisfying. What a brilliant, lovely book. I will never forget it—and I fear I may never shut up about it, either.”
—ELLEN PALL, AUTHOR OF MUST READ WELL
“In Please Write, author J. Wynn Rousuck has created an intimate tale about coping with hardship and loss. She threads her tale with charm and hope and a touch of whimsy, reminding us that even in the most difficult situations, laughter is an essential antidote to worry. For comfort and companionship, look no further than the adorable Zippy, the rescue dog who helps rescue her human owner from the profound sadness of grief.”
—DIANE COLE, AUTHOR OF AFTER GREAT PAIN: A NEW LIFE EMERGES, A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
“This charming epistolary pup novel, Rousuck’s debut, celebrates dogs as family, with an emphasis on their love and idiosyncrasies… Sweet, hilarious novel of dogs as pen pals, told in their surprising letters… Comparable titles: Ann M. Martin’s A Dog’s Life, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose.”
—BOOKLIFE-PUBLISHERS’ WEEKLY EDITOR’S PICK
“Please Write is a novel that uses letters to build its characters. It opens with a letter by Winslow that tells his grandmother about the unwelcome addition of a puppy to the previously one-dog household of Winslow, wife Pamela, and husband Frank. Grandma Vivienne responds with a letter back ... to the new family member named Zippy, for its proclivity for dashing around the house. As Winslow's life with Zippy evolves, readers receive a warm story that reaches out to embrace not only a lost dog's new home, but a family that needs her—whether they know it or not… J. Wynn Rousuck's unusual letter-writing approach to following this family's evolution lends a personal touch that pairs observation with insights on different forms of therapy and recovery. It gives a tone of revelation to family connections which come to life under different forms of examination. The result is a novel that will appeal to libraries and readers interested in stories that cultivate unusual approaches to family dynamics. Please Write represents a different spin on these relationships, moving through life changes with the call and response of animal and human observers who prove to be unexpected major players in a family's many important changes.”
—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW (SENIOR REVIEWER DIANE DONOVAN)
“J. Wynn Rousuck’s debut novel is a witty and charming epistolary delight, in which her human and canine correspondents tell a poignant and insightful tale of loss and love. A story about an abandoned terrier pup finding a new home and the human and canine family members who must adapt to her presence, Please Write is enriched not only by the author’s clear affection for dogs, but also by her keen understanding of why we love our animals so deeply.”
—ROB SIVAK, FORMER SENIOR PRODUCER, WYPR, BALTIMORE’S NPR AFFILIATE
“Please Write is a loving tribute to the dogs in our lives and the ways that they play witness to the things we experience, both good and bad. In a charming book written in a series of lively and engaging letters, dogs Winslow and Zippy and human Grandma Vivienne cover everything from the pleasures of a good chew toy to the deep grief that follows the death of a loved one. Rousuck’s novel embraces the highs and lows of life, never shying away from the harder moments while also celebrating small pleasures (like recipes for homemade dog treats!). Our dogs are there for us in difficult times, and they remind us to look for joy every day. Please Write is a beautiful celebration of the human-canine relationship.”
—E.B. BARTELS, AUTHOR OF GOOD GRIEF: ON LOVING PETS, HERE AND HEREAFTER
“Please Write focuses on one family’s efforts to understand, encourage, and comfort its loved ones. Revealed through the surprising and sometimes laugh-out-loud correspondence between Winslow, a Boston Terrier, Zippy, a ‘terrier mix,’ and their ‘human’ Grandma Vivienne, the story that J. Wynn Rousuck tells is wise, poignant, and unforgettable.”
— LINELL SMITH, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST AND SENIOR EDITOR/WRITER FOR JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE
“This enchanting and masterful tale serves as a gentle reminder of the fragility of life, emphasizing the importance of cherishing the moments we share with our loved ones, whether human or canine. A must-read for those seeking a heartwarming and poignant story that resonates with the power of love and connection.”
—DR. JENNA PODJASEK, AUTHOR, PARTICLES IN THE AIR
“With a comic reserve and an inspiring, Snoopy-esque philosophy, Winslow, a purebred Terrier, takes Zippy, a vagabond Jack Russell mix, under his guiding paw in upper-class suburbia. In the form of letters to Grandma Vivienne, Winslow narrates as his little sis is undone by her energetic mischief. What do you expect from a rain-soaked scruff found beneath a Baltimore pretzel truck? You’ll delight in their adventures!”
—BRANDON M. STICKNEY, AUTHOR, THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU’LL MEET IN PRISON: A MEMOIR OF ADDICTION, MANIA & HOPE
“Sweet, sad, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable.”
—CINDY PAILET, HAPPY LONGTIME DOG OWNER, DENVER, CO
“Funny, endearing, and, eventually, heart wrenching. I’m passing it on to other members of my family who are dog lovers.”
—PATRICIA BRADLEY, DVM
“Grief comes in many forms as we make our way through life. Please Write reminds us that comfort and healing do, too. Lifting us up and touching our hearts through the canine voices of exuberant Zippy and staid Winston, this dog's-eye-view takes us on a sometimes-madcap journey of growth and understanding.”
—ELIZA FELLER, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, SOL LEVINSON & BROS., BALTIMORE
“I liked the idea of reading an epistolary novel, especially since at least one of the correspondents was a dog. So I bought PLEASE WRITE, thinking it would be a fun weekend read. It started out as a romp, fast-moving and very funny, but soon I found myself caught up in the stuff of serious literature: love and death, grief, repentance and forgiveness, all the things that great novels make us think about, but still, told in the voices of two charming dogs and an artist. I laughed but I also cried. Please read! And J. Wynn Rousuck, please write some more!”
—LEON J. PODLES, AUTHOR, SACRILEGE: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
“J. Wynn Rousuck’s whimsical and waggish epistolary novel Please Write presents a conversation in letters between a doting grandma, a longtime loyal pet, and a rambunctious puppy who’s away at canine camp…The book is focused more on charm than it is on developing its plot; its narrative is an exercise in ongoing, good-natured warmth. It sustains the central conceit of human-pooch missives well. Still, despite its lighthearted tone, it also touches upon serious subjects including illness, grief, and alcoholism, with the grandma character often sugarcoating such matters for the dogs. Its heartbreaking ending is well foreshadowed but still surprising and poignant. The creative and fun epistolary novel Please Write shows the special bonds shared by dogs and their owners, delving into the hearts of each.”
— FOREWORD REVIEWS/CLARION
“I loved the way this story evolved, and the letters written, especially the ones by the dogs. I loved that the book included recipes. I appreciated that this story was more than just another story about dogs; there was depth to the story as well. There’s a lot of humor in Please Write, and there are both some serious moments and serious themes. Overall, this novel had a lot of wisdom and charm, but it also is a story of love and hope, and the gift of unconditional love from dogs.”
—CHERI STEPHENS, REVIEWING ON NETGALLEY
“You’ve heard of literary lions. What about corresponding canines? Who knew that dogs could type?! The letters Zippy and Winslow write to their Grandma Vivienne are funny, sad, and absolutely believable as they reveal a very human story, told in the context of love. This is the perfect book for all those people who’ve gone on trips and secretly wished they could phone their dogs.”
—MARTHA TEICHNER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT AND AUTHOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER WHEN HARRY MET MINNIE