All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley

on August 23, 2018

The Love Letter 
Lucinda Riley
Pan Macmillan
2018 (originally 2000 as Seeing Double), 590p
Copy courtesy Pan Macmillan AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

1995, London.

When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family and a wealth of memorabilia from his long career but also a secret so shocking, so devastating that it could change everything…

Joanna Haslam is an ambitious young journalist, assigned to cover the legendary actor’s funeral. The great and the good of the celebrity world will be there. But Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter Harrison has left behind, the contents of which he was desperate to conceal. As she gets closer to tracking down the source, she realises that there are other very interested parties. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does.

This title was originally published as Seeing Double.

This is my first Lucinda Riley novel. A couple of years ago I was sent the second in her Seven Sisters series but I hadn’t read the first. I’ve since picked up the first on iBooks but I haven’t tackled either of them yet. Quite frankly, the second one is a brick and I’m assuming the first is as well. This is a solid almost-600p so it seems that if you like bang for your buck, Lucinda Riley might be a good choice. In an author’s note at the beginning of the book, Riley writes that this was originally published almost 20-years ago but didn’t do very well, perhaps because of the timing. I’m not sure how much editing as been done but the book keeps it’s mid-90s timeframe, which I have to admit, perhaps doesn’t do it any favours.

So. Sir James Harrison passes away, a respected theatre and Hollywood actor. Young journalist Joanna Haslam is sent along by her newspaper to cover the funeral and meets a mysterious older lady at his funeral and then stumbles on a mystery. The sort of mystery that certain people and organisations would do anything to protect.

I have to admit I struggled with the first probably half to two-thirds of this book. It felt very slow pacing wise – achingly slow at times. There’s a lot of stuff about Sir James Harrison and his life and the life of his family and Joanna meeting several remaining members. It honestly took me a really long time to get into the story. The secret feels dragged out too long – there are a few hints dropped along the way but it’s complicated by one of the other characters connections to the same family. But when you wait so long for something to be revealed, sometimes it loses its power.

Perhaps because I’m not English, I didn’t particularly find the revelations mind blowing. I understand the problems they would’ve caused but I’m not sure I really thought that what it might possibly bring about would be a bad thing. It’s quite likely that if I were English I might feel differently, or maybe I wouldn’t. Who knows? It’s a bit of an outdated concept in 2018, I think anyway. And it’s entirely possible that it’s happened in real life, buried in the history books. And the book is terribly dated obviously – 1995 isn’t that long ago in terms of timeline but it’s a lifetime ago in terms of technological advancement and stuff like that. No one has a mobile/cell phone in this book and it’s really quite jarring in that they’re all running around trying to communicate with each other. But I knew that going in and it doesn’t really affect how I feel about the book, it’s just a little side note.

What did impact how I felt was just….there are two ‘romances’ that sort of crop up out of this story that are endgame and I’m afraid that I just didn’t really buy into either of them. Neither of them really did anything for me – in one of them, there’s just so little real build of it, there’s no real exploration of it and it just felt a bit slapdash, like the author was left with these two characters who were going to end up kind of hanging at the end so she decided to just pair them up and then go back and insert a few lines about it. And the other, which involves Joanna, was equally lacklustre. I found her love interest spoiled and silly (well you’re supposed to in the beginning) but I never warmed to him either. He had such a sense of entitlement that was so ingrained that I think it would’ve taken quite a bit for a person like that to overcome that sort of upbringing. He was from a wealthy and successful family, although he hadn’t found that success himself and had made bad choice after bad choice and been bailed out each time. He’s bitter about his inheritance from a family member and savagely cruel. Then he meets Joanna and five minutes later he’s thinking ‘oh I want to be a better person for her’. It just felt really forced and unbelievable. It also gave Joanna bit of ‘special snowflake’ syndrome. She was a perfectly nice person, good reporter, quite intelligent and sensible. The idea of her and this person was just quite odd. They didn’t have any chemistry for me and the ending just felt so ridiculously far fetched that I ended up laughing out loud.

Despite the fact that this book wasn’t to my liking, I’m still going to eventually try the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley because I have heard so many amazing things about it. A lot of people I know really enjoy it and several people have recommended the series to me. So I’m going to chalk this one up as a bit of an anomaly – perhaps if I’d read it in its original timeline, it might’ve felt a bit more high stakes but honestly, I think it needed to be trimmed down quite a bit and have the pacing adjusted so that it didn’t feel so slow slow slow and then everything happening right at the end.


Book #138 of 2018

7 responses to “Review: The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley

  1. I didn’t know this was an old one re-done! I don’t feel so disappointed about not being sent a copy now. It sounds like it’s nothing at all like the Seven Sisters, which I am a big fan of. Maybe Lucinda has really improved over time, I’ve only read the Seven Sisters books up to date, none of her other backlist, but in these, she writes magnificently. You seriously don’t notice the length of the book, the page just fly by. Although, I just read the 4th this last week, and mine was a hard cover, which in hindsight might have been a better idea as an ebook! It was heavy!

    • I think it was republished on the strength of how well The Seven Sisters series is doing but honestly as my first introduction to her, it didn’t do her any favours. If I hadn’t had other people that I trust sing the praises of that series to me, I probably would not pick up a book by her again!

  2. She’s one of my favorites. The seven sisters is one of my auto-buy series, try to go back and read the first book! Disappointed Love Letter 💌 wasn’t better.

    • I really have heard quite a lot of good things about that series so I’m definitely going to try and fit it in at some stage. Hopefully over my summer holidays here

      • Gillian Hammerslag says:

        I am amazed that it was published even now, it is so close to previous generations of the English royal family. A very complex and fascinating story as other Lucinda Riley that I have read

  3. Paige Reilly says:

    Please can somebody explain the ending to me? I am very confused and have finished the book and have no idea who the daughter is!

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