Challenge criteria: A book with a protagonist who has your occupation. (Ellie and I are both journalists.)
It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing – not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply “B”, asking her to leave her husband.
Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper’s archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie’s search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.
What I liked:
Unlike a lot a split narrative books, this one stays with one character for quite a large chunk of the book. Whole chapters pass and still in the voice you left when you turned the page. On a side note, what is it with me and reading split narration books recently? This is now my second of the year.
There was great dramatic irony in the book too. For most of the novel, I knew exactly who Jennifer was looking for, and I sat yelling at her to open her eyes and see who it really was.
It also portrayed the aristocratic lifestyle of the 1960s perfectly – women subservient to their husbands, long business trips overseas, smokers everywhere, and long form letters. When Jennifer broke away from her old life, I actually whooped in bed.
I tried to guess the ending, as I usually do with books. I was wrong, but boy was I glad to be wrong. The actual ending was so much better than my version could ever have been.
My favourite part though was the inclusion of real letters actual couples sent to each other. Even if some of them were break up letters. It was so lovely to see the real letters mixed in with the fiction, even if I spent weeks lying awake wondering who the intended was.
What I didn’t like
If you’ve seen The Vow, with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, you’ll recognise this plot, where woman forgets her husband after a car accident.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Laurence’s way of dealing with Jennifer (yes, I laughed for a while because Jennifer Lawrence) forgetting him. He didn’t seem very supportive, but rather selfish; several times in the book he chided her for not referring to him by the nickname she had obviously forgotten.
I felt as well that Jennifer’s story dragged on a little long. When we were eventually re-introduced to Emma, I was like “who’s this wan?” I felt, as much as I liked staying with Jennifer’s story for a while, it needed just a little hint of variety to liven it up.
Out of 5?
Has to be a four. Like any other Jojo Moyes book I’ve read, I fell in love with it and I was sobbing like a baby at the end. Naturally.