Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jojo Moyes - The Last Letter From Your Lover

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'.

Comment: Although Jojo Moyes isn't an author I immediately jump into reading, I've enjoyed enough of her writing style to buy and add more of her books to my reading lists. This month I picked this book even though the blurb wasn't one I felt very compelled by.

In this book we follow two stories, Ellie's and Jennifer's.
Jennifer is a woman living in the early 60s and her life has everything to be perfect but after an accident she forgets things and her steps to discover what happen before the accident reveal she had another man she was in love with, someone not her husband.
In 2003, we have Ellie, a young woman working in a newspaper whose career seems to go more and more wrong because she can't get her head out of her relationship with a writer she met while working, a married man.
The parallel between these two women's lives and the secret that will bring them together is powerfully emotional but will it prove love is really the biggest strength of all?

In terms of story line, there is a lot to be appreciated in this book because the content is certainly emotional and poignant. For me, the problems happen because of that same content and some narrative choices I think are a bit too confusing when one reads about.

The book is divided into three parts, parts which explore mostly Jennifer's path in life and how she deals with what is happening to her, how she dealt with being in love with a man not her husband and their letter exchanging.
Therefore, the book is the story of Jennifer and the story of Ellie, each one in their own time, living their lives. They eventually meet face to face in the third part of the book and that is when the final twist starts to be shaped.
Personally, I found it too confusing because although we are talking about different stages in the character's lives, that change isn't as obvious as years' gaps. Meaning, each part isn't set in a different year or moment in time. We get, in each part (maybe not as much the third part) text about Jennifer before she had her accident (the reason why there's a story after all), so that we, the reader, can understand why she acted weird later on and why that mattered. 
Then, we also have texts about Jennifer after the accident while she tries to cope with a reality she forgot and while she fits the pieces together about what happened.
The problem is these two different timelines only are separated by a blank hole in the page, there's no indication where we are unless we keep reading. When it comes to narrative style, fascinating. But to be easy to follow things, not as much.

Ellie's story isn't as developed. She works in a newspaper and her finding one of Jennifer's letters from when she exchanged them with her lover and from then on, things happen quickly. Ellie isn't a character I liked much, to be honest. In the first chapter we learn she has an affair with a married man and I must say I hated her then. She is not a misled woman, being deceived. She embarked on the affair knowing he is married and knowing their relationship isn't one that can solved easily. People make choices, why would someone knowingly be with a married person? I absolutely hate cheaters and in such a modern age, Ellie letting herself be with a man who was taken seems stupid and mean. I'm not excusing him, he is even worse, cheating on his wife, but Ellie is a smart, modern woman, what kind of message is this women should do whatever they want just because...I was really angry at this.

So, both plots are similar, things start to shape up towards the last part, the emotional content is quite strong, especially when we read about the loss of timing that sometimes can make everything go wrong when just a random chance could have changed it all.
I didn't like Jennifer had an affair but her reasons still feel more explained and understandable because she lived in the 60s.
There's a twist I didn't expect in the end and that is certainly a positive aspect.

Although every situation somehow solves itself in the end, I was still feeling a bit annoyed at some of the character's choices. I just didn't enjoy this as much as if some elements had been done differently. But yes, there are HEAs to wonder about in the end of the story.
Grade: 5/10

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