Last but not least is my review for ‘The Lost Letters’ by Sarah Mitchell. Huge thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Here is my review:
Canada, present day
When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.
Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.
But the tragedy of war brings heartbreaking choices. And a promise made between the two women will echo down the years, and could change everything for Martha…
What does TWG think?
Can I just take a moment to appreciate just how STUNNING this cover is?! This has got to be one of my all-time favourite covers that Bookouture have ever created – simply stunning!
Oh this is a little gem of a read! Instead of being a told a story set in the present day, us readers are lucky enough to not only meet characters from the present, but to be able to step back in time to where it all began….so to speak. If you’re the type of person who enjoys finding out how things became the way that they are now, you are in an absolute treat as Sarah Mitchell has done just that with her characters, Martha, Connie and Sylvia. With Martha still grieving the loss of her father, anything she comes across reminds her of him, especially when she finds letters written to a mysterious ‘Catkins’. Yes, I know, who is Catkins, and why were she and Martha’s father in contact? If Martha delved into her father’s past, would she end up unearthing things that she would have preferred not to know? Or will those letters end up being the key to finding out more about where she came from?
Such a sticky situation with no correct answer. My heart went out to Martha, but selfishly I was eager to find out the truth about her past and her future. I wasn’t going to sit there and relish in it, nothing like that at all, I guess I was just curious about Martha’s past. As I said to begin with, Martha’s life is in the present, yet the story does switch between the ‘now’ and 1940, where the war was raging and uncertainty was rife. Especially for Sylvia. However, when I first came across Sylvia’s character, I couldn’t help thinking that there was a lot more to her that meets the eye, I just couldn’t put my finger on what or why that was. Sylvia certainly is one of a kind and whilst I did find myself becoming emotionally attached to her situation, I struggled to feel complete empathy towards her decisions. That said, how can anyone judge someone’s situation when they’re not living it themselves?
The historical element to ‘The Lost Letters’ was beautifully written, and the characters were delicately crafted, creating a very spirited and emotive storyline for readers to lose themselves in. If you’re after a storyline where the pace is faster than a train, you will be disappointed as the true beauty of this book isn’t in how fast it flows, it’s in how much it gets under your skin.
An enchanting, thought-provoking and dynamic read – I am looking forward to reading more from Sarah Mitchell in the future.
About the author.
After graduating from Cambridge University, Sarah Mitchell practised as a barrister in London for 20 years, working in the field of human rights and European Law. She was tempted to write fiction for a long while and finally signed up for an introductory creative writing course with the Open University. Two years later she took a sabbatical from the bar to do an MA in Creative Writing at the UEA and has never looked back. THE LOST LETTERS is her first novel, inspired by a walk on the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea to calm her nerves before starting the MA, and the decision her grandparents almost made to evacuate her mother to Canada at the start of the Second World War. Sarah now lives back in Norfolk – where she grew up – with her husband and three almost-grown-up children, and combines writing with some legal work.
You can follow Sarah Mitchell on Twitter at @SarahM_writer