Thank you to Headline Publishing Group at Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of Kathryn Hughes’ new novel, The Letter.
Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home.
Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever…
Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine…
The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman’s devastation leads to the other’s salvation.
“WHY DIDN’T HE POST THAT LETTER? IT WOULD HAVE CHANGED EVERYTHING.”
I don’t think I can put into words how beautiful this book is, but I will try my best. The Letter is a touching tale of love and loss in two different time periods. I was engrossed in both Tina and Chrissie’s stories and went through every emotion under the sun whilst reading. From sadness, to anger, to joy, The Letter is absolutely stunning.
We start in the early ’70s with Tina, a gentle soul who is currently stuck in an abusive relationship. She’s hoping Rick will change his drunkard ways, but – spoiler alert – he won’t. While Tina’s life may seem all doom and gloom, a letter she discovers in a suit pocket whilst working at the charity shop suddenly changes her life in ways she couldn’t imagine and unlocks a heartbreaking history.
The parts of the novel where we see Tina and Rick’s turbulent relationship play out are among the hardest to read. Kathryn Hughes’ writing is so vivid (in the best possible way) that I physically flinched on multiple occasions.
Tina’s struggle is brilliantly woven in with another tragic love story which takes place in 1939 with Billy and Chrissie. I just adored these two from the get-go, but the romance was always doomed. If it wasn’t Chrissie’s cruel and controlling father keeping the two apart, there was of course the war.
We all know how much of a sucker I am for a good romance novel so it’ll come as no surprise that I did indeed shed one too many tears over The Letter. My head is so full of what-ifs and scenarios where Chrissie and Billy ride off into the sunset. What if Dr. Skinner had given Chrissie the letter? Would her and Billy really have lived happily-ever-after?
Kathryn Hughes did an excellent job of seamlessly bringing these two stories and the characters of the past and present together. While it’s devastating that we never got to see Chrissie and Billy reunited, it was reassuring for Chrissie to get some closure and finally be able to move on. And as unfortunate as Chrissie’s heartbreak might be, it did lead to another romance blossoming instead. The inevitable pairing of William, a character introduced in the second half of the novel of whom I will try not to spoil, and Tina made me squeal with glee. There was nothing more refreshing after that emotional roller-coaster of a novel than seeing two souls brought together.
The Letter may have torn my heart into shreds, but it did also restore my faith in true love oddly enough.