Having "discovered" British novelist Jojo Moyes last year, I've been eager to work my way through her books. My latest read is her generation sweeping epic, The Last Letter from Your Lover.
In the 1960's Jennifer Stirling has been in a car wreck and suffers memory loss. She returns home from an extended stay in the hospital to her emotionally abusive husband. Soon, she discovers evidence of her own infidelity prior to the accident and begins to piece together the puzzle of her former life.
Fast forward to 2003, journalist Ellie Haworth is struggling. She has been having a year-long affair with a married man and she has a new boss who is a tyrant. Ellie's perspective is about to be altered when she discovers a series of love letters in the library of the news office. As she hunts for the owner of the letters, she begins to question the sanity and stability of her own love life.
On the surface, this is a story of two love affairs. However, Moyes doesn't write simple stories. The Last Letter from Your Lover is filled with unexpected twists and emotional heartache. Just when I thought that the story was going in a particular direction, Moyes would throw an unanticipated obstacle into the mix. I admire her ability to keep me guessing.
The story had tones of another story that I really admire, Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. What I liked about Greene and Moyes' stories is even though the protagonist are engaging in something morally wrong, you still feel compassion for their situation. Moyes has layered characters. She doesn't simply make Jennifer's husband a tyrant to justify the affair and make you root for Jennifer. She gives you real, concrete reasons to see why their marriage is failing and why Jennifer would find love elsewhere. She doesn't make Jennifer entirely sympathetic. In fact, sometimes I wanted to shake her. Jennifer can be a total bitch. It's Moyes' roundedness that she gives her characters that make them feel authentic and it is what makes the story such a compelling read.
Thematically, I enjoyed reading about Jennifer's lavish world. She is a wealthy woman living in the 1960's in London. Moyes paints the details of her life in high society in a beautiful way. I loved her descriptions of the gorgeous gowns and fancy parties.
There was really nothing that I didn't enjoy about The Last Letter from Your Lover. If anything, it makes me want to start the next Moyes novel on my list. She is a gifted story-teller and I want more!