Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take Care of Yourself For Me

"All these years, through all she's suffered,
she's been loved.
Isn't that the most important thing, in the end?
To know that you're loved?"
--Iona Grey, Letters to the Lost


Genre: Adult Historical Fiction & Contemporary
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

A beautifully written and evocative novel—the story of an impossible, unstoppable love affair set in London during World War II and the present day

An accomplished novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page. Iona Grey's prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can't bear to let them go.

Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton.
The Story
Guys, I was browsing on NetGalley--which I NEVER do--and found this under St. Martin's page and I knew I wanted to request it. Seriously, if y'all know me you know I am pretty stingy when it comes to requesting and I have to really want to read it to request it so I was a little nervous going in just in case I didn't like it. No worries there! It was a little slow to start, and the pacing overall is pretty slow, but I loved it. I fell in love with this book like you fall asleep...slowly and then all at once--Thanks, John Green. But for real, that's how it was. It took a few chapters for me to feel the beat and then I was all in. The 2011 story and the flashbacks to the 1943 story sucked me in like mad. We are first introduced to Jess who is running away, from what we do not know, and she finds an abandoned house to hide out in. The next day a letter arrives from an American man telling an old love that he has spend his life loving her and wishes he would have fought harder for her...and so it begins...

We get Jess' present day story of trying to survive, get her life right, as well as find out who the woman of the letter is. We also get a journey to the past--see what I did there?--to discover what the actual story is that inspired this letter. The present day story is pretty light in the first 50% and then it really digs in whereas the first part of the book focuses a bit more time on 1944. How these two stories come together and the story that unfolds in 1944 is perfect in pacing. I felt like London 1944 enfolded me in its blanket of words and as awful of a time this was, I feel oddly comforted while reading. It was like coming home after a long time away and I realized my own love affair with this city during this time period. I will not reveal spoilers but this story is beautiful in its innocence yet passionate nature. The impossibility of the situation, the unknown of tomorrow or even the next hour, and the longing that is felt for loved ones in harm's way. It is all just so...tragically beautiful, and I loved every second.

The 2011 story is a slow burn. We have two very complex characters who are so different yet so similar. Again, no spoilers, but the circumstances that bring these two together at several different times is just fantastic. You can't fight fate or destiny but you also sometimes have to fight to get there. I found myself rooting for Jess and Will in so many ways and they were so endearing to my heart. I just wanted them to be okay. The focus overall might have been moreso on 1944 but I didn't love Will and Jess any less.

The Letters
I am a sucker for letters in books. Especially love letters. There is something so innocent and sexy and romantic and deep about love letters. I love when they are in books and so much emotion can be felt in a short letter compared to 10 pages of writing, in my opinion. So much is conveyed in so little and it just clutches at my heart. I love, love, loved reading Dan's letters to Stella and I just cannot tell you how much this added to the story and made the entire story possible.

The Writing
As I said above, the writing felt like it was wrapping me in a blanket. I was enthralled by the story and absolutely never wanted to put it down. The pacing is slow but in a deliciously slow revealing way. I loved how this story was written. I felt like we really got a feel for the setting, the emotions, the characters, their motivations, the longing, all of it. It was fantastic and if you're a fan of historical fiction, you will fall in love with this story.

The Love
While I, myself, completely fell in love with the characters and their story, I could objectively see that there is small lack in the build-up of the feelings. I don't want to go so far as to say insta-love because it is SO not that but I could have done with a little more interaction with each other before feelings were discussed. On the same note, when you know you know and in their situations it is completely understandable so Imma let it slide and it didn't bother me but I could see where a few people might have small issues with it.

Backstage Pass
If you love historical fiction, love letters, and wartime love stories...this book is for you.

2 comments:

  1. Love letters + historical fiction? I'll take it. I've had my eye on this one since you first mentioned it to me, and I'll definitely be checking it out at some point :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't head of this book until now but your review makes me want to go out and get it as soon as I can. I have to agree with you: love letters are the best things ever and I love it when they're in books!

    ReplyDelete

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