When journalist Ellie looks through her newspaper’s archives for a story, she doesn’t think she’ll find anything of interest. Instead she discovers a letter from 1960, written by a man asking his lover to leave her husband – and Ellie is caught up in the intrigue of a past love affair. Despite, or perhaps because of her own romantic entanglements with a married man.
In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in hospital after a car accident. She can’t remember anything – her husband, her friends, who she used to be. And then, when she returns home, she uncovers a hidden letter, and begins to remember the lover she was willing to risk everything for.
Ellie and Jennifer’s stories of passion, adultery and loss are wound together in this richly emotive novel – interspersed with real ‘last letters’.
Shouldn’t there be a way to read an author’s works chronologically? I discovered Jojo Moyes and her writing via ‘Me Before You,’ (2012) and going backwards, have just read ‘The Last Letter From Your Lover,’ (2008). When you have already read the bestseller by an author, made into a motion picture and liked the book too – expectation levels are set high for all of their previous books too. I was disappointed with ‘The Peacock Emporium,’ (2005) when I read it this year. So, it is best to accept that a writer you like has written in various styles throughout their career.
‘The Last Letter From Your Lover’ is probably a little mis-titled. It sets a certain conjecture even before the story begins. There must be a pair of lovers then and parting, since the title mentions ‘the last letter’. Understandably, the novel starts with Jennifer having lost her memory post an accident. The year is 1960 and she discovers that she has a husband but with zero recollections of his existence. She begins a new life of discoveries from the hospital and regains just flashes of a lost love, a lover, a longing that cannot be explained when she looks at her husband Laurence. She finds a letter that might take her back to her lover, a certain ‘B’ who signs the letter without his name. Cut to 2003 – Ellie, a struggling journalist finds this letter in her office archives and is set on an impossible journey to find what happened to Jennifer and B.
The second half of the book is much more fast paced than the first one where the reader might feel a little frustrated with Jennifer, as there doesn’t seem to be much coherence between her past and present persona. Her friends are confused and so are we – is Jennifer a cunning, devious, shrewd upper-class trophy wife or is she a sensitive, mild-mannered ignored wife? I’ve liked this part though; it was imperative to ride along with Jennifer in her journey of introspection and self-discovery. Her risky romance with B was perhaps necessary to free her from the shackles of Laurence who barely treated her as an equal human. The characterisation of Ellie felt a bit tedious to me. I would have preferred less of her personal life as a sub plot and more into the investigation that she was onto. But I think Moyes wanted to depict and somehow connect the lives of the two women with respect to their individual battles. It makes sense at the end, though. Ellie does meet Jennifer and feels liberated to make a choice in her life.
I would definitely say that Moyes was developing her signature style of writing with this book that became popular later with ‘Me Before You.’ This one is set to release as a movie on Netflix this 23rd July, 2021. I’m rather excited to watch Felicity Jones playing Ellie.
My Rating: 4/5
About the author:
Jojo Moyes is a novelist and journalist. Her books include the bestsellers The Girl You Left Behind, The One Plus One, Me Before You and After You and her short story collection Paris for One and Other Stories. Her novels have been translated into forty-four languages, have hit the number one spot in twelve countries and have sold over thirty-eight million copies worldwide. Me Before You has now sold over fourteen million copies worldwide and was adapted into a major film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. Jojo lives in Essex.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Author(s): Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Hodder, Year Published: February 2011
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 512
ISBN-10 : 0340961643, ISBN-13 : 978-0340961643
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This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.