Review: The Letter

September 6, 2013 Whitney Review 1 Comment

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The LetterThe Letter by Kathryn Hughes
Published by Troubador Publishing on July 2, 2013
Genres: General Fiction
Source: Netgalley

Kathryn Hughes’ new ebook The Letter offers readers a chance to absorb themselves in the lives of two women, born decades apart but whose lives share a number of parallels. The novel explores two historical strands, bringing together an abused housewife from the 1970s and a young girl from the early 1940s in a story of love, loss and unexpected consequences.

The Letter follows the life of Tina in the 1970s who seeks respite from her abusive marriage by volunteering at a charity shop. One day, while sorting through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter. It is still firmly sealed and un-franked. Unable to resist the pull of curiosity, Tina opens the letter. It was written on 4th September 1939. She is so moved by the contents and bemused as to why the letter was never delivered, she embarks on a quest to find out what became of the writer and his intended recipient.

The mystery of how this love letter ended up in Tina’s hands is also uncovered through Billy’s story from the early 1940s. He writes a letter that will change his life forever, unaware that it will not be read for another 34 years, and then by a complete stranger.

With a swift pace, memorable characters and a wonderful conceptual depth, Hughes’ novel is one that simply can’t be put down.

The Letter is a Lifetime Movie.  It has all the elements, with a battered wife, discovery of one’s past and unexpected love (not to mention a heartfelt reunion).  Kathryn Hughes’ book would be a good Saturday morning film on a rainy day.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Lifetime movies, they are my guilty pleasure, I’ve just seen enough to know one when I see it.  Having said that, I enjoyed The Letter but it isn’t something I’d be bragging to my friends about.

Even though The Letter held my interest, I found it predictable and at times lacked substance, such as Tina’s naivety in her abusive marriage.  Both she and the plot were weak and could have used a pick-me-up.  Christina, who the letter was written for I found more interesting.  She has riches to rags which I found more compelling and richer with a 1940s backdrop.  The blurring of the two stories was nicely done but it irked me that both the two main characters in each story were named Christina and William.  It was just too cutesy for me.

Overall, The Letter was a fluff of a book but would fit the bill for a decent mindless read.

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