14 December 2010
Book Review: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
I have never actually read a Jojo Moyes novel before, but I'm not entirely sure why. When I received this one in the mail, it was wrapped in brown paper with a gorgeous pink ribbon, and it really made it stand out in my memory when I was looking for something new to read. It's quite a chunk of a hardback book, something I quite enjoy because that means there is a nice long story to get stuck into, and I was hoping that my first foray into Moyes' work would be a successful one that would introduce to me to a not-so-new author that I could begin to love with.
The book begins in the present time with journalist Ellie looking for her next special article. She's a bit stuck and doesn't know what to write about, so when she uncovers some letters from years ago, she thinks there might well be something there for her to investigate. Soon, she is absorbed by the beautiful love letters, but there aren't any clues of who the authors of them are. Ellie is a good enough character, but really only seems to be present to hold together the story of the love letters and make it possible for them to come to light. The letters also hit home to Ellie because of her own affair she's having with a married man, something she seems to be struggling with too so does seeing these 2 lovers put their forbidden feelings down in print do something to Ellie about her feelings?
I did find the modern days with Ellie good enough but for me, the book really takes off when we start going back to the 1960's, and into the lives of Jennifer and her family. We meet her after she's awoken from a car crash, she doesn't know anything about who she is so this means both our character and the reader are unaware of any of her background and are therefore discovering it together. This does make for an unusual character development but I really loved how this plays out. Jennifer is a very likeable character, seemingly trapped in a world she doesn't feel like she belongs to, and her relationship with her husband Laurence is badly failing too. Alternating between Jenny pre-accident, and Jenny post-accident, we can see the definite change in her, and you can start to see why she would be attracted to "B" who she writes to in her letters.
There was something really charming about the whole historical story. Usually, I don't like anything set in historical times because I just personally prefer books set in the modern day, but for this book it really worked, and I was hooked by it. Jenny, whilst trying to discover more about herself, meets people she wouldn't normally fraternise with, and I liked reading her unfolding relationship with B, even though I was convinced that they would be found out at any moment. As usual, the course of true love doesn't run smoothly and I loved how Moyes kept us guessing about whether these two lovers would ever be able to be together as they wanted. Marital separation was hugely frowned on in the 1960's, and it was hard to read about Jenny not being able to do anything about her dead marriage despite wanting to.
There are some shocking revelations towards the end of Jenny's story, and I think these were great because I didn't see them coming at all. Nothing is left unturned - Moyes makes sure that she closes all threads of her story perfectly and I think the conclusion that the book comes to suits the essence of the story perfectly. The parallel of Ellie in the modern day finding herself in a very similar scenario is quite a nice wake-up call that just because things happen in another time, those issues are just as relevant now as they were then. I found Moyes writing was very descriptive, from the lovely outfits that Jenny wears, to her innermost feelings about B and her marriage to Laurence. She brings to life the plot with her words, and I found myself hooked and wanting desperately to find out what would happen with Jenny and B. A beautifully written book that I devoured quickly, and would recommend without hesitation.