The Last Letter From Your Lover
Hodder & Stoughton
Read from my local library
Ellie is a London journalist who finds herself in the firing line of her boss. Desperately looking for a story, something to fill the newspaper’s feature pages, she heads down into the dusty archives. The paper is moving and Ellie’s boss thinks that something from when the newspaper first moved into its building versus now, might make a good news piece. Ellie doesn’t expect to find anything but her job seems a little under threat right now and given that her personal life is a mess, she needs something to go right for her. She finds a simple letter, tucked into a file. It’s written by a man in the 1960s, to his lover, asking her to leave her husband and meet him so they can go away and be together. Ellie is immediately caught up in the mystery of it, she’s determined to see if she can track down the couple in the letter and see if they ever ended up together. That will be her great story.
In 1960, Jennifer wakes from a coma in a London hospital with almost no memory. All they tell her is that she was in a car accident, both her mother and her husband refuse to answer any questions, clearly changing the subject and letting her know that they find it uncomfortable and she shouldn’t ask anymore questions. She returns home to a life she cannot remember, with the husband she barely knows and friends she struggles to fit in with. Her life suddenly seems so pointless and shallow, like there is no purpose to it. She is to look pretty and be an asset to her husband – she seems to have no aspirations and interests of her own. That is until she finds a letter tucked away into a book, a love letter. Slowly Jennifer begins to remember a lover, someone that she was willing to risk absolutely everything for. Now she just needs to find him again.
The Last Letter From Your Lover is split between Ellie and her life and Jennifer’s re-discovery of her own life. Both stories will come together in Ellie’s search for the ultimate happy ending.
After reading and absolutely loving Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You recently, I’ve been intending to read her backlist. This was the one that I’d heard quite a bit of praise for so it’s the first one I borrowed from the library. I really enjoyed the contemporary part of the story – I loved Ellie and even though she is involved in an affair with a married man, I still felt for her, because she’s in that hopeless stage where she honestly believes that he will leave his wife… it’s a classic scenario. I did find her attitude towards her lover’s wife a bit callous at times – not in line with my personal way of thinking, but perhaps that way the way she had to be in order to justify the fact that she was messing around with a married man. I got right behind her quest to find out the mystery letter-writer and to find out what happened – I would’ve been exactly the same.
I didn’t enjoy Jennifer’s story as much, mostly because I really struggled to connect with her. She and her lover meet before her car accident and you get quite a picture of Jennifer – pretty, young, married a rich man and basically it is her job to keep him happy. She wears beautiful clothes, she sparkles at parties. She’s a bit cold, a bit…remote. Even as she changed and fell in love, perhaps for the first real time in her life, I couldn’t really relate to her. I didn’t dislike her as such, I just couldn’t find anything to really like about her, someone to cheer for. I felt for her at times in her situation…but then it was her own making.
I also would’ve liked a little more time spent on Ellie and her situation, rather than just brief sections at the beginning and at the end. I felt like that story could’ve been a little more involved without losing anything from the Jennifer story line, especially as Ellie comes to terms with where her life is headed and how it might not actually be making her happy.
Despite my criticisms, this is still a hell of a story. The whole idea and execution of it is wonderful and it kept me utterly engrossed, even with my slight aversion to Jennifer as a character. The story was bigger than her and I felt like it was such an enjoyable ride – it didn’t resonate with me quite as much as Me Before You but it was still an amazingly well written book. It’s definitely got me hunting down my next Jojo Moyes read, without a doubt.
Book #107 of 2012
The Last Letter From Your Lover is the 3rd book read for the What’s In A Name?5 challenge, fulfilling the 5th criteria: Something you’d carry in your purse/backback (obviously being letter. Not lover!).