Title: The Last Letter from Your Lover
Author: Jojo Moyes
Format read: Audiobook
I have a been an avid reader my entire life. Some of my clearest school memories have nothing to do with the classroom (sorry, teachers-turned-friends!) and everything to do with that little book-filled newspaper, received at a frequency I no longer recall, that I remember pouring over at my desk. Each page thoroughly scanned and transformed with circles or stars indicating the books I most wanted. I don't remember the process from there. I assume I had some sort of allotment for each Scholastic book-paper (dollar amount or book quantity is my best guess) but none of that mattered. I knew I was getting more books.
I have similar joyous memories walking through Walden Books in the mall, pacing the stacks at the library; bottom line, I love books! At this time of life, the majority of my reading is done via audiobook for convenience. Not needing to choose between walking my dogs or reading, doing the dishes or reading, etc is worth the $14.95 monthly charge.
Now that I've officially added author (unaware? look here!) to my resume and recognize to a new degree the importance of reviews, I've decided to add Book Reviews to the rotation of blog posts. As a reminder, if you've already read The Red Couch, please take a few moments to review it and rate it on Amazon. The more ratings and reviews received, the more it gets into the hands of new readers. And, now, without further delay, my review of The Last Letter From Your Lover.
Truth be told, I wasn't looking for a new book at the moment. Instead, I was scrolling through the notifications on the Netflix app on my phone and came across the 'coming soon' trailer for the movie version of this book. The trailer intrigued me. Once I learned the author of the book was Jojo Moyes, I was sold.
It did not disappoint.
The book jumps around several time periods within the 1960s and in 2003. I have a love-hate relationship with that particular style, but knowing (or, more accurately, believing I knew based on the move trailer) the main arc, I was willing to overlook the jumps. Truth be told, it was done so brilliantly it didn't bother me once. Unlike other books I've read during which I wondered 'why do I care about this character', I felt invested in each of the three primary characters from word one.
Anthony is addicted. To the bottle. To love. Most tragically, to hope. Jennifer is torn between living proper and living true. Between living for her husband and reputation or living for herself. She is haunted by choices both made and left unmade. Ellie is, when we meet her, falling apart. Hers is a secondary story that captured enough of interest to become primary. The intersection of all three characters and story lines is somehow both obvious and unexpected.
Moyes succeeded in fooling me a couple times. The story avoids a formulaic feel, instead feeling fresh despite occurring mostly in the past. There was an ending I longed for, but did not know if I'd get. In the end, the ending I longed for fell short. Beauty and pain. Hope deferred. Hope realized. Love misses. Love that hits. Awakening. People of do things 'in the best interest' of another with no possible idea of the true impact.
Boiled down, one could call it a love story. It is that, but in both conventional and unexpected ways. There is a fullness to each sub-plot that is also special. The book spotlights the lost art of letter writing, highlights the limited choices women had in terms of post-divorce prosperity, and skirts the line of the inconceivable. If extramarital affairs are a negative trigger for you, you'll want to skip this one. That being said, it hooked me and pulled me in.
This one will stick with you. I'm a re-reader of books I love, which is why I can never pick a favorite when asked, and this is on that list. It is a journey, perfectly paced to keep you intrigued without feeling bogged down, that will not soon be forgotten. If you're looking for a new read, this one gets a 'highly recommend' from me!
As for the movie? Huge disappointment. If I'd watched it first, I think I would have liked it. Unfortunately, I listened to the whole book excited that I would get to see it acted out. It fell way short. The pieces left out make sense; the changes that were made definitely do not. Furthermore, after seeing what makeup can do to age people in This Is Us, to say it was a let down when the makers of this movie opted to change actors altogether is a significant understatement. Lost opportunity, people. Read the book, absolutely. Watch the movie? If you love the book, don't do it. Especially right away. If, however, you're intrigued but don't want to read the book, the movie is a decent substitute.