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This romance novel by Jojo Moyes is the second that I have read by this author. I enjoyed the first one (Me Before You) immensely, and I am pleased to say this one was just as good, as well as very different.
Jennifer Stirling lives with her husband in 1960s London. Following a car crash where she has lost part of her memory she is trying to re-build her life. One day she finds a letter from a man who clearly loved her, a man who isn’t her husband.
Journalist Ellie Haworth discovers a mysterious love letter in her newspaper archives in 2003. She is intrigued enough to find out more.
The plot synopsis above is deliberately vague as I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Yes, it is a romance but the outcome of it is never straight-forward and always complicated (at least for the characters, it isn't for us). I loved the story and allowed myself to be immersed in it and was always happy to pick up the book and see what was happening in their lives. The first part of the book is mostly all Jennifer’s story and we see her life both pre and post-accident. I initially found this confusing as I sometimes forgot which time-frame I was in (the difference was only a few months). The latter part of the book is mostly told from Ellie’s perspective, but we do see glimpses into past events from the 1960s. I didn't want to leave Jennifer and move onto Ellie, but the latter grew on me and I begrudgingly allowed her to continue the tale that I was so engrossed with, even thought she was a bit of a silly cow at times. I was quite desperate to see how it all ended, I didn't actually care how it ended (actually I did), but more than anything I needed to know what happened. Moyes does not make it easy for you to figure out.
If you are a fan of romance novels then I can highly recommend it as it offers some mystery alongside the romance. The romantic strands are also original; this is not a typical boy-meets-girl chick lit book. At 500 pages it is not a small book, but it doesn't seem it when you read it.
This wasn't originally a book that I had intended to read. However, my mother borrowed it from our local library and raved about it so I decided to give it a go and I'm really glad I did!
Ellie is a journalist who has let her career slide a bit thanks to her complicated love life. When she stumbles across some old love letters from decades gone by, she feels sure that this is where her next big story will come from. Trouble is, she doesn't actually know who they belong to and who they are about. Can she find out in time to convince her editor that she's still got it? And will the people concerned actually want to be identified?
Unknown to Ellie, the letters belong to Jennifer, who is the main character from here in. We first meet her in the 1960s - the time period in which the letters were written. She has woken after a car crash to discover that she has no idea who she is. She doesn't recognise anything about her world so as a reader, you are also discovering her identity along with her. This really hooked me as I immediately warmed to Jennifer, had sympathy for her situation (which is far from happy) and was keen to find out whether she ever did meet up with 'B' to escape (as per the letter on the book blurb). This hint of mystery kept me reading and I was quite captivated by the plot.
Ellie isn't as strong a character as Jennifer, which I suspect was deliberate as the story isn't really about Ellie. She serves mostly to bridge the gap between the past and the present, though she does have a sub-plot of her own going on. That said, I liked Ellie and her role in the plot was a great way of introducing the letters and setting off the main plot.
In short, I really liked this book. I've never previously read anything by JoJo Moyes before and she's never previously been on my radar. Jennifer is an engaging character, as is Ellie to a lesser extent, and I found the intrigue relating to the 1960s romance very riveting. I didn't expect this book to turn into such a page-turner but I actually read it in three days (unusual for me these days as I don't get so much chance to read) and it wasn't the shortest book either. Big thumbs-up from me and I'll definitely be looking out for more books by JoJo Moyes in the future!
Ellie is a journalist who is at a loss at to what to do for her next article. Her editor is on her back for something special, but she really is stuck. Then she comes across some love letters from the 1960′s, and is sure she can make an article out of them somehow, but she's got to find out who the recipients are first. How is Ellie going to be able to trace these people from nearly 50 years ago? Back in 1960, Jennifer wakes up from a car accident and worryingly has no idea who or where she is. She certainly doesn't recognise the man everyone tells her is her husband, and feels like a visitor in her own grand home. When she meets a journalist, Anthony, by chance, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship which quickly develops into something neither of them expected. How much is Jennifer willing to risk to be with Anthony?
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.
ISBN: 978-0340961643. Published by Hodder in July 2010 (Hardback) and February 2011 (paperback). RRP: £12.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.