Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

A friend of mine asked me recently if I'd read this book.  I hadn't heard of it but I was intrigued by the title.  I happen to love letters.  They are a dying art and I miss finding them in my mailbox.  I checked it out on Amazon and fell for the tag line of "Number 1 Bestseller that everyone is talking about".  The book sounded like everything I would love to read.

In 1973 Tina is trapped in an abusive marriage.  She works as a typist during the week and volunteers her time in a thrift shop on Saturdays.  One day she finds an old letter in the pocket of a man's suit left in a bag of clothes on the shop's doorstep.  She's intrigued by the words of a young man, Billy, as he professes his love and commitment to Christina.  Tina decides she'd like to deliver the letter herself even though it is 40 years later.  But as her own marriage falls apart, Tina's desire to find Billy and Christina is put on the back burner.

The story then flashes back to 1939 and a young girl, Chrissie, defies her parents and falls in love with Billy.  A series of tragic turns rips the lovers apart.  A letter meant to mend broken hearts is deliberately never delivered by Chrissie's father.  The letter at the center of this story is actually very sweet and heart warming.  But the story surrounding it is ordinary at best.  The circumstances were so predictable I could have told the rest of the story myself and arrived at the same conclusion after reading less than the first fifty pages.  The characters were flat and one dimensional, the settings, ordinary.

The promise of the letter had so much potential, but it fell far short.  And if this is the "Number 1 Bestseller that everyone is talking about", I need to find myself another conversation.

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