The Last Letter from Your Lover
Jojo Moyes

Penguin Group
Hardcover/400 pages
ISBN: 978-0670022809
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". . . a substantial romance with all the right tropes . . ."

Jennifer Stirling wakes up in hospital and does not remember who she is—or was—and has trouble connecting to the people in her life. Most of all, she has trouble connecting with her husband Larry. He is solicitous and does not press her, and the doctor tells her not to dwell on things and just live, but nothing feels right. Jennifer does not fit her skin any more and she is not sure whether it is because of the accident or if her body and soul are showing her what her foggy mind cannot.

When she comes across the first letter, she begins to see her feelings are not far wrong and there is, and was, something wrong with her marriage, so wrong she had an affair. She does not remember who the man is, but she is determined to find out.

Forty years later, Ellie Harworth is flailing when she comes across a love letter. She thinks the letter will rejuvenate her career and give her answers to her own relationship. The letters connect both women and Ellie wants to find out what happened to the couple.

In what purports to be a double love story, Jojo Moyes vacillates between Jennifer’s past and present lives as she struggles to find where she fits in. I could not figure out whether Jennifer was remembering the past or Moyes was offering glimpses of the past to move the story forward and create tension and depth for Jennifer and her lost lover, Boot, in The Last Letter from your Lover. I enjoyed both stories and the budding romance, but felt that a chronological tale would have benefited the story and the characters.

Jennifer is fragile and confused and it was easy to warm up to her as her life falls apart and she struggles with where she belongs, especially when Larry tells her that her love is dead, killed in the accident that sent her to the hospital. His bitterness is understandable to a point, but Larry is no saint and not much of a husband. He has money, but little compassion and fewer reasons to be bitter.

Ellie is not as easy to understand or to like. She is all about the job and her drive, while commendable, is more a vehicle to bring Jennifer and Boot’s story full circle.

I enjoyed The Last Letter from your Lover but with reservations. The writing is wonderful when Moyes focuses on the story, but the plot devices and time switches tend to be distracting and less effective. Moyes, however, has penned a substantial romance with all the right tropes, and one that is memorably poignant.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell