Fan Mail and Ester Ried

At the height of her popularity, Isabella Alden was one of the most widely-read authors in the world. One of the things that made her so popular—and unique—was the varying ages of her readers: she had just as many children who were dedicated fans of her books as she had adult fans. And they all wrote letters to her.

She received letters by the thousands, addressed to her publisher, to her home, and to the offices of her magazine, The Pansy. And she answered them all!

Isabella Alden in an undated photograph.
Isabella Alden in an undated photograph.

Some fans wrote to request her autograph and a photo. Others asked for advice on how to become a great author or they sent their own manuscripts and asked for her opinion.

Some asked for advice on other topics, from how to get a good husband to the best way to stop fingernail biting. One fan even asked for pieces of her best dress so they could be sewn into a patchwork quilt the fan was sewing!

An early cover for Ester Ried
An early cover for Ester Ried

But the fan mail Isabella received most often was about her book Ester RiedEster Ried was incredibly popular and prompted scores of readers to send Isabella letters thanking her for the book’s message.

New cover for the 2016 release of Ester Ried
New cover for the 2016 release of Ester Ried

Fans wrote to Isabella about how they saw themselves in Ester’s struggles and her impatience with life’s daily annoyances. But mostly, readers identified with the lessons Ester learned; they took to heart the promise that God would bring peace and happiness to their lives, if only they trusted in Him.

What started as a single book soon blossomed into an ongoing series. The Ester Ried series gave fans of the original book glimpses into the lives of the characters they loved. Readers grabbed up each new story about the Ried family members and their trials as they grew up, married, and learned to trust God to help them through a sometimes difficult world.

Cover_Julia Ried

Two years after Ester Ried was published came Julia Ried, a sequel that focused on Ester’s younger sister Julia and the lessons she learns about faith in times of temptation. It also brought readers up to date on Abbie Ried’s story after the tragic turn her life took in Ester Ried.

Cover_The King's Daughter

The following year Isabella published the third book in the series, The King’s Daughter. In this book Isabella introduced the character of Miss Dell Bronson. Unlike Ester or Julia, Dell was rock solid in her faith and trusted God in her daily life, but she still had challenges to face. And she still had lessons to learn in Wise and Otherwise, the next book in the series.

Cover_Wise and Otherwise

Isabella commissioned her best friend Theodosia Foster to write book five. Echoing and Re-Echoing (written under Theodosia’s pen name Faye Huntington) centers around Ralph Ried, Abbie’s brother, who, as a new minister, struggles to reach his flock through his Sunday sermons.

Cover_Echoing and Re-echoing

Isabella’s fans particularly loved the sixth book in the series, Ester Ried Yet Speaking, because it included the character of Flossy Shipley. Flossy was originally introduced to readers in Four Girls at Chautauqua. In Ester Ried Yet Speaking readers got to find out what happened to Flossy after her marriage to Evan Roberts. They also met Dr. Everett, Hester Mason, and Joy Saunders, who were the main characters in Isabella’s later book, Workers Together; An Endless Chain.

Cover_Ester Ried Yet Speaking

Isabella waited nine years before she published Ester Ried’s Namesake. It was intended to be the last book in the series, but fans wrote to beg for more.

Cover_Ester Rieds Namesake

Even Isabella’s niece, Grace Livingston Hill, encouraged her to write “one more long story.” Grace suggested she write about Ester Ried’s granddaughter or great-granddaughter, and thereby reach an entirely new generation of readers with the original book’s message.

But by that time, Isabella was 86 years old and in failing health. One more “long story” was beyond her abilities, she told Grace. “You have altogether too high an opinion of me.”

Many fans of the series think the Ester Ried books are perfect, just as they are; the only difference is that today’s readers have the option to read the books electronically. A new generation of Ester Ried e-books is available on Amazon and other e-book retail sites.

Boxed set e-book cover for Ester Ried, the Complete Series.
Boxed set e-book cover for Ester Ried, the Complete Series.

Have you read the books in the Ester Ried Series? Which book is your favorite?

You can click on any of the book covers in this post to find out more about each title.

8 thoughts on “Fan Mail and Ester Ried

  1. I have not read this set although I have copies of some of them from when they were first or second publishing. So thank you for sharing and I bought the e-version so I can read at night with the lights off or for traveling. I look forward to hearing about Flossy as she was my favorite character in Four Girls at Chautaugua. Have your read them all?

    1. Flossy is my favorite character, too, Karen, because she is deceptive in her appearance, but so strong in her convictions! We’ve been working for some time on making the complete Ester Ried series available; once we found an original version of Echoing and Re-echoing, we knew we had a complete set to share. I hope you enjoy it! —Jenny

  2. I am very much enjoying reading this series on Kindle…thanks so much for it. I am being challenged in my faith and am constantly amazed at the depth and richness of the Christian experience that’s portrayed here. Makes me look forward to meeting both Pansy and Grace in heaven some day! These books are proving a wonderful blessing to me–and an agent of change for some of the gray areas in my Christian walk. THANK YOU!

  3. I really do not like the 2016 recovers for Isabella Alden’s “Ester Ried” series.
    They look pretty sinister and evil actually. None of the ladies look like Christians. Only two of the ladies look pretty, and sweet.
    And most of them are in the wrong kind of dress for their era too.
    The old book covers could and should have been re-created. They were so pretty with the embossed flowers and vines and old texts for the titles! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment, A. Kuiper, and you’re right–the Ester Ried covers are a real departure from the vintage style covers we’ve been using. I’m glad to get your feedback because the next Pansy books we publish will go back to covers similar in style to the ones we’ve used in the past. I’ll post here as soon as we have a release date for the next book. Please let me know what you think! —Jenny

      1. I’m with her! I love the old-fashioned Gibson Girl/Sargent portrait style covers. I wish I had them in “real” book form with such beautiful covers. Not a fan of the heavily made up contemporary gals, either!

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