July 2011

Love connections

By Jojo Moyes
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An engrossing double love story set in the not-so-swinging ’60s and a contemporary London news office, The Last Letter from Your Lover offers a captivating tale of missed connections.

The novel opens when the victim of a bad traffic accident, Jennifer Stirling, wakes up in a hospital room unable to remember anything. Nothing is familiar to this Grace Kelly look-alike, not even her husband. After she is released, she is haunted by the strangeness of her surroundings and by her husband’s reserved manner. Finding a series of love letters addressed to her and signed “B” carefully hidden around her house confirms her sense that her marriage was an unhappy one. But who was her lover? Held back by fear and the rigid conventions of the early 1960s, Jennifer hesitates to grasp at a remembered chance of happiness, even after she discovers the identity of the man for whom she was willing to risk so much.

Forty years later, journalist Ellie Haworth uncovers a group of love letters signed “B” in the newspaper archives. The passion and tenderness of the letters draw Ellie in. She can’t help but compare the intensity of the letters with the cryptic text messages she receives from John, a married man with whom she is having an affair. As she labors to discover the people behind these mysterious letters, Ellie re-examines the choices she has made.

Author Jojo Moyes artfully combines the two threads of this romantic tale in ways that not only avoid cliché but offer continuous surprises. More than a simple framing device, Ellie’s story thoughtfully reflects Jennifer’s dilemma. In some ways, The Last Letter from Your Lover is itself a love letter to the all-but-disappearing handwritten message. But Moyes is too honest to simply pine for what once was; though Ellie may long for the passion behind a scribbled love note, the changing times offer her a freedom that Jennifer never had.

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