Posted on August 1, 2015
Review: The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
Author: Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
I think I can tell that Jojo Moyes became one of my favorite authors. I’ve read four books by her and I loved them all. I read The Last Letter from Your Lover back in May, when I had a break from reviewing. I had a pile of books, and I ended up writing mini-reviews for most of them. Not in this case. This book deserves a full review.
The Last Letter from Your Lover has similar structure to another Jojo Moyes’s book The Girl You Left Behind. There are two stories in one book. Strangely, I wasn’t frustrated when we were abruptly switched from one story to another as I was while reading The Girl You Left Behind. Probably I was prepared this time.
In 1960 Jennifer Stirling awakened in hospital after a car accident with no recollections of who she was and how she ended up there. As she’s trying to return to normal life, she could feel the strain between her and her husband and finally she found a letter from a mysterious B where he asked her to leave her husband. It’s obvious she had a lover, but who he was and how Jennifer could find him? In 2003 Ellie Haworth, a journalist who is trying to pick up her collapsing career, finds this letter in the newspaper’s archive. Intrigued, she decides to find out what happened to Jennifer and B, while trying to sort her own life, since she has an affair with a married man.
The first chapters of the book were slow, painfully so. Probably some readers would get bored and give up on the book, but I didn’t have problem with it. Jojo Moyes perfectly created this stifling atmosphere, where confused Jennifer couldn’t breathe.
I admit I was hesitant to pick up this book because it deals with infidelity. Writing about such sensitive topic requires tact and not every writer can pull it off. But Jojo Moyes did an amazing job here. All relationships in this book were complex, messy and real.
Laurence, Jennifer’s husband was an interesting character. I’m glad Jojo Moyes didn’t make him the evil, so Jennifer’s choice would be easy. Laurence was an average man from that period of time. He was cold, he thought that a good wife should be just a pretty silent thing on her husband’s arm, but he genuinely loved Jennifer, he tried to make her happy in his own way, and he suffered and didn’t understand why she wasn’t happy.
Romance between Jennifer and B really touched me despite it being an affair. Their story was unfolded in snippet, by letters, memories, and my heart broke every time something went wrong.
“If only’ is a very dangerous game indeed.”
You know I tend to think and rethink “what if”; what if I’ve done it differently. I consciously try not to do it because what good can it bring? I’ve done what I’ve done and now I can’t change it. Life goes on. So Jennifer and B’s story was like my personal hell. So many lost opportunities, so many different paths, so many “what ifs”.
I especially was grabbed by relationship between Ellie and John. He is married and she is that woman. I didn’t expect to feel so much. I sympathized with Ellie, I felt frustration, anger. Their relationship were painful, draining. While Ellie could see the toxic effect they had on her life, she couldn’t get out of this trap.
When I was in my early twenties, young and single, and later when I was happy newlywed I had a strong negative opinion about infidelity. I was quick to judge and thought that to have an affair was an awful and unforgivable thing to do. I also pitied and couldn’t understand those women who stayed with their unfaithful husbands. As time passed something in me shifted and I realized that things are not black and white. Relationships are more complex. I don’t try to justify infidelity. I personally think that if two people love each other and are in relationship, they should be faithful, but now I have it in me to at least try to understand the other side. The other revelation I had some time ago, you can’t really predict how you would react if you discovered that your partner was unfaithful. My close friend found herself in such situation. She always was pretty vocal that she would kick her husband out of her life if he cheated but when it happened she decided to give him second chance, she did it for herself, for their relationship, for their children. God, it’s so easier when it’s just two of you… So far they are good together. I’m sorry, I got way off track here, but this book made me think about all of this. There was a scene in the book that was a trigger to this train of thoughts.
“He’s not her type. He’s sarcastic, a bit chippy, probably several years younger than she is. She suspects he earns significantly less than she does, and probably still shares a flat.”
Isn’t it wonderful?
“Her head, her flat, her life, are full of John. There’s no room for this man. Perhaps what she actually feels for him is sisterly, and only mildly confused by the fact that he is not exactly ugly.”
At first Ellie didn’t see him as a love interest at all. She just liked to spend time with him and in his presence she could relax, be herself. There was a scene when they went skating:
“When she fell over, he laughed mercilessly. It was liberating to do this with someone whose opinion she cared so little for: if it had been John, she would have fretted that the chill of the ice was making her nose redden.”
As they form tentative friendship I couldn’t help myself, but rooted for them and wished them to become more than friends.
There was also twist at the end which I totally didn’t see coming. Speaking about the end, I was pleased how the book ended. It was an open-ending but full of hope.
All in all I it was another great book by Jojo Moyes, and I enjoyed it a lot.