Book Review: The Letter – Kathryn Hughes

Synopsis:the letter cover

Every so often a love story comes along to remind us that sometimes, in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way. Discover the Number One bestseller that has captured thousands of hearts worldwide…

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever…

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine…

The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman’s devastation leads to the other’s salvation.


I received a copy of this book  from Headline Review via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

This book, I don’t even know where to begin… it made me feel a lot… and by a lot I mean my book journal (yes, I have one of those – a beautiful Leuchtturm 1917 ExLibris Journal… and it’s my baby) references to “feels” the majority of the time (aren’t I eloquent)…

By page 11, I was gripped and slapped with the cold, hard reality of this book. Hughes wasn’t going to beat around the bush, she wasn’t going to sugarcoat things – instead we are thrown into a horrifying tale straight from the beginning. Those triggered by domestic abuse should probably stay away from the book because the topic does feature for quite a large part of the story…

I really liked how the two stories interlinked by the end of the book. I anticipated that they would, but it was done quite well. Only objection I would have to the way in which Hughes executed that part of the novel, was that it depended very much on accidental happenings, and I was struggling to see all of it realistically occurring… Nevertheless, that ignored, it was heartwarming to see everything come together in that way. Especially after the introduction of William’s character.Whilst it took his image a while to establish itself in my mind and at best he was only 2.5 dimensional, I was rooting for him more than I had ever done for a character in this particular genre. I really admired his resilience in the whole situation as I’m unsure whether I’d be able to demonstrate the same frame of mind – especially with so many setbacks.

I was also largely affected by Tina’s story… and I prayed to god that she would come out in one piece. And whilst initially that wasn’t distinctly so, I’m glad that Hughes brought out her sewing kit and stitched Tina back together.  I would have been very angry had it not been the case.

Hughes did something remarkable during her book… Whilst I cried because of a dog at one point of the story; it was largely expected as dogs always turn on the waterworks in novels and films for some reason – even more easily than humans do which could be slightly concerning if one dwells on the fact… But she also managed to make me pity a truly evil man, for a split-second… but I felt deeply sorry for what had happened to him a few moments prior – it was like a punch to the gut… which was a strange sensation to feel due to his vile nature. However, any positive feelings I may have had for his character had largely disappeared by the end of the book, even when he tried to redeem himself.

I would recommend this book to fans  of historical romances with a modern twist and wonderful parallels but would definitely give a heads-up to those triggered by miscarriages and abusive situations as I think it would be unfair not to give a warning when writing about this particular book which centered around both of these topics.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Everything belongs somewhere”

-Ava

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