April 28, 2014

Time Keeps Tearing Us Apart

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

Release Date: June 2012 (Originally 2010)
Publisher: Penguin | Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 416 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
A sophisticated, page-turning double love story spanning forty years - an unforgettable Brief Encounter for our times.

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 archive. 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.

Thoughts on The Last Letter from Your Lover
First things first: I read the hardcover version of this book, which looks different from the one I'm highlighting in my post. I like this hot pink cover better because it matches the look of the other Moyes U.S. releases, BUT I picked up my copy at a used bookstore in Boston while traveling for work so mine has character that makes up for the not-as-cool cover.

Like The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover includes historical and contemporary sections. The book opens in the 1960s and sets up the main conflict: Jennifer Stirling has been in a car accident, and now she can't remember anything about her life. Her husband is a stranger to her... and then she finds a letter, hidden away, begging her to leave him and signed only "B." Jennifer is wealthy and has a glamorous life that many could only dream of, so why is she so haunted by the mysterious "B"? The passion in his letter has her wondering - who is he and where can she find him?

The contemporary portion is set in 2003 and involves a young woman named Ellie. She's involved in an affair with a married man, and it's complicating her entire life. She's lost her focus and her footing at work when she discovers a moving love letter that leads her on a wild goose chase to discover the author and the recipient. She claims it's just for a story, but there are personal reasons why she's invested in seeing this through.

I read this book at the beginning of March, but I purchased it in August. I'd actually been a little hesitant to read it. As much as I loved the two Moyes books I had read, I was wary of this one because of the summary. Although I don't completely avoid books involving cheating/affairs, I don't gravitate towards them (especially when it involves marriage). There are a few things that I have a hard time separating how I feel about them in real life from how I feel about them in a book, and cheating is one of those things. The biggest reason is this: I struggle with rooting for a couple whose relationship starts from that point, even if it's only fiction. But when a good blogging friend mentioned reading it at the same time, I figured that was just what I needed to finally dive in!

Despite my misgivings, I can tell you that I really did love this book. Did I have moments where my own personal beliefs influenced the way I felt about what I was reading? Sure. I know that as much as I loved this book, I would have loved it even more if the main character wasn't married. I get that it creates drama and angst, but I still really hate that I couldn't get quite as invested in this couple as I would have liked. But I still have to give Moyes credit for writing an incredibly moving story with characters that I truly loved, even when I struggled with their actions.

Jennifer and her lover make up the primary focus of the book for a long time before it shifts to Ellie and her life. This aspect reminded me of The Girl You Left Behindi: the book is set solely during the historical time period for a long time before finally switching completely to the contemporary portion. The two halves do connect, but there's a pronounced shift from one section to the other (not an intermingling of the two time periods throughout the book). I'll admit that I'm a little bit torn on the way this was done. I don't like it when books jump around a lot between two time periods, but the second storyline and those characters are introduced so late in the book that it (in some ways) feels like they detract a little bit from the primary story.

On the one hand, I truly do like the way the two stories work together to paint a more complete picture of what's going on. But, on the other hand, I was so invested in Jennifer and B that I was kind of annoyed at first when it switched to Ellie. I truly did grow to like her (despite the fact that you want to yell at her a little bit), but it took a little warming up to her. The problem I had with the contemporary portion is that Ellie's story didn't feel entirely necessary. But Jojo Moyes has still become an auto-buy author, and I really can't complain about much in this book. There's real emotion, exciting action and charming characters in The Last Letter from Your Lover, which is a recipe for a great read.

This was my least favorite of the three books I've read by Moyes at this point; however, my least favorite from Moyes is still a thousand times better than so much of what I've read. Moyes is an incredibly gifted author, and I'm so glad that she's becoming more well-known in the U.S. Many of her books previously only published in the U.K. are finally making there way here, and that's definitely something to celebrate.

The Last Letter from Your Lover is romantic, thrilling and bittersweet. Once I was hooked, I couldn't put it down. It might not be the first Moyes I'd recommend, but I bet that you'll be clamoring for anything and everything by her once you give any of her books a shot!

So Quotable
"Somewhere in this world is a man who loves you, who understands how precious and clever and kind you are. A man who has always loved you and, to his detriment, suspects he always will."

14 comments:

  1. I read this book this month and highly enjoyed it. It happened to be my first novel by Moyes and hearing that this was your least favorite, I am very anxious to read her other booka to see how great they are.

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    1. Oh I'm so glad you really enjoyed this one! I hope you do read some more by her and continue to love it!

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  2. I am so on the fence about Moyes...this one sounds pretty good though, I'll have to keep it in mind!

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    1. Keep me posted if you do end up reading it! And by that I mean - I'll be keeping an eye out for a review of it on your blog haha :)

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  3. I really liked this book. Jojo Moyes is an author I really can't get enough of.

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    1. SAME HERE! I'm glad she's got so many books on her backlist that I haven't read yet.

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  4. oh hmm! i've been meaning to try another book by her bc i loved me before you so much. this sounds like a solid book overall but i think i should probably pick up her other one? i can def see how the narration of jennifer would be more interesting. just from that summary, I WANT TO KNOW! who is this b!

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    1. yes, i liked the girl you left behind a bit more BUT i know cass, kelly and ellice seriously loved one plus one (out this july) so that might be a great one to read next, too. and yeah, ellie was interesting but jennifer totally stole the show!

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  5. I cannot wait to read this! Totally ordered it after talking to you last night! I'm excited for another historical ficiton/contemporary but sad we don't meet some characters until late in the game. You'll get texts with all feels soon, I'm sure :)

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    1. Girl, send me those texts with all the feels. Looooove it.

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  6. Ok so I've only read Me Before You by this author, and though it was one of the most thought provoking stories I've ever read, I've not been able to pick up anything else by Moyes b/c it gutted me so much. I just can't read another end that's as devastating. But my friend Carrie has told me that they don't all end that way. She's suggested The Girl You Left Behind and The One Plus One (which isn't out here yet). I'm definitely nervous about the cheating in this book, and the word 'bittersweet' for the end, so I'll probably hold on this until I read the other two. But I'm glad that you ended up enjoying this book much more than you thought you would.

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    1. I tweeted you about this already, but don't be scared of this one! I used bittersweet because I thought it was fitting (can't say why obviously but not a big deal truly), and it's nothing like Me Before You. I wouldn't say this one is emotionally devastating at all. It's got an emotional element for sure, but it's very different from that one. I've also heard amazing things about One Plus One and I loved The Girl You Left Behind (I definitely recommend it!) and think either one would be a great one for you to try.

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  7. I'm definitely on the fence about this particular Moyes book. While I recognize cheating does happen in real life, it's always hard for me to read books that feature it in any way. I am glad to hear that you wound up liking this one, even though it's not your favorite!

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    1. Yeah, cheating is definitely not my favorite topic in books. I won't completely avoid it, but I'm never as invested in a story as I could be when the love story involves having an affair. And I'd probably say you're good to focus on other Moyes books first!

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