January 22, 2015

Review: Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes 
Publication date: July 7, 2011
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Category: Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Purchased
Summary: It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband. Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
Jojo Moyes' writing is magical. I don't know how else to explain it. Every time I read one of her books, I feel like I’ve been dropped directly into her story, experiencing love and life alongside her characters and moved to tears more often than not. The storytelling in The Last Letter From Your Lover is masterful. It adeptly switches between multiple time periods and characters beginning with Jennifer Stirling in 1960. Jennifer has just woken up in a hospital with no recollection of who she is or of the accident that put her there. Everything is strange to her — from her husband to her friends and even herself. Then she finds a passionate love letter from “B” who asks her to leave her husband and thus begins the flashbacks to show how their love affair began as Jennifer tries to figure out who he is. And just when you least expect (or want) it to, the book jumps ahead to 2003, to a journalist named Ellie. She finds one of Jennifer’s letters from B in the newspaper’s archives and decides to research the story. Who are these two lovers? What happened them? Ellie draws parallels to her own life and as she searches for answers, it also becomes about searching for what she wants in her own love life.

One of the many things I love about Moyes’ books is that her characters are flawed and lead very messy lives. Nothing is black and white and I think that’s a reflection of any one of us, whether we want to admit it or not. Jennifer seems perfect on the outside. Beautiful, poised, rich, an adoring husband, a close circle of friends. But that same husband is constantly away and while he does give her everything, he’s more interested in the appearance of a proper wife than acknowledging her intelligence or wit. Even her friends seem double-edged and tied to their societal circle rather than genuine connections to each other. So when B comes along with his open-minded view of the world, discussions and the way he really listens to her, I understood why she sought his company as a friend. And later, as something more. It wasn’t right, because cheating never is, but I felt for her. Especially as the relationship continues to build and they do fight the attraction every step of the way. But their love (and it truly does evolve into this) is passionate and epic and it was impossible not to be caught up in it.

Later with Ellie, she’s a character I typically would not sympathize with. She’s the “other” woman who’s convinced herself that what she and her married man share is real. I didn’t buy that for a minute and we’re not meant to. Normally, I’d feel very angry with characters like her but I kind of pitied her because I knew it was going to blow up in her face eventually and she would deserve it. But sometimes people need the worst to happen in order to get a rude awakening. The part I enjoyed about her story was how she pursued Jennifer and B’s past and what she uncovers about them (and herself) as a result.

(Super minor) Reservations
My only reservation is the moment when the author chose to jump to 2003. Even though I did get invested in that part of the book, a part of me initially wanted nothing to do with Ellie and desperately wanted to go back to Jennifer and B. But it does work itself out in the end. However, I think if the time jump at happened to sooner or if the book had been a little longer, it would’ve allowed us to know and understand Ellie better as an individual.

Do I recommend?
Yes! This is my fourth Jojo Moyes book and I consider it my second favorite! (The first is still Me Before You.)

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, your second favorite! That's actually pretty high praise, if you ask me. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more Jojo Moyes this year (and I'm prepped to do that with two of her novels on hand). Just the thought of indulging in her writing once again really makes me happy! Can't wait to read this one - it sounds really rad.

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