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The Indiscreet Letter

Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

Book Overview: 

Eleanor Hallowell Abbott's The Indiscreet Letter finds three fellow travelers on a train who enter into a discussion concerning what they would call an ‘indiscreet letter.’ The discussion produces some rather interesting revelations during the journey and at journey’s end.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .tty much—of a gamble perhaps, but a letter that was perfectly, absolutely legitimate for you to send, because it would be your own interests and your own life that you were gambling with, not the happiness of your wife or the honor of your husband. A letter, perhaps, that might be a trifle risky—but a letter, I mean, that is absolutely on the square!"

"But if it's absolutely 'on the square,'" protested the Traveling Salesman, worriedly, "then where in creation does the 'indiscreet' come in?"

The Youngish Girl's jaw dropped. "Why, the 'indiscreet' part comes in," she argued, "because you're not able to prove in advance, you know, that the stakes you're gambling for are absolutely 'on the square.' I don't know exactly how to express it, but it seems somehow as though only the very little things of Life are offered in open packages—that all the big things come sealed very tight. You can poke them a little and make a guess at the shape, an. . . Read More

Community Reviews

"The Railroad Journey was very long and slow. The Traveling Salesman was rather short and quick. And the Young Electrician...was neither one length nor another..."

The two men were talking about an indiscreet letter that was found in a dead friend's pocket that was giving the widow no end of worry. "

This is a charming little bitty novella type of work by Elizabeth von Arnim of Enchanted April fame. The setting is a train ride in the early 20 th century and the story begins with a lady's loungerie salesman discussing an indiscreet and somewhat mysterious love letter found in an aquaintance's poc

Nice and short, intensely interesting once the girl began to tell her story, but the ending was so abrupt. It was a happy ending, evidently, but I wanted to know much more! Just one more chapter would have made it feel more finished.

I have arranged my take away thoughts into a haiku:

“It’s funny, isn’t it,
How we’re our sincerest selves
With perfect strangers.”

It's an engrossing short story which keeps the character list short, but unravels layer after layer in an effortless and natural way. Abbott does a good job of keeping you guessing about where it's all leading, and it has a satisfying end.

Just listened to an audio version of this. Its a pretty short tale, quite delightful actually. Three persons, a salesman, an electrician, and a Youngish Girl, happen upon each other whilst travelling on a train from Halifax to Boston. The salemans mentions the death of a married man he knew and the

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