I am so excited to be sharing my review of Emily Gunnis’ outstanding novel, ‘The Girl in the Letter’, which was published in e-book by Headline on the 1st August. Don’t despair if you’re more of a paperback lover, as the paperback is due to be released next year. It really is worth the wait! Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Phoebe Swinburn for the ARC via Netgalley. Here is my review:
A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding
house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.
Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a
letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother,
begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.
Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the
woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece
together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for
Read her letter. Remember her story…
What does TWG think?
I am fully prepared for the fact that my review may not do the book justice at all, but I aim to give it my best shot.
-falls on the floor- If I could get away with a review merely stating, ‘OutFLIPPINGstanding – EVERYONE MUST BUY!’, I totally would. In fact, I couldn’t have summed it up better in four words if I had tried. Luckily (or unluckily, depends which way you look at it), I enjoy talking and I feel that ‘The Girl in the Letter’ deserves to be in the spotlight for as long as possible, sooooo, sorry to my four words, but even I know I’m going to need to do better.
Set in 1956 when mother and baby houses were around for unmarried mothers to cleanse their souls and deal with their ‘sins’, ‘The Girl in the Letter’ tells the emotional story of a young girl called Ivy, who had her path chosen for her against her will. Her life in St Margaret’s was very, very tough. She saw things that people her age and younger should never see, let alone have to deal with. But what could she do? The nuns were set in their ways, and their punishments were very severe – whichever way she looked at it, Ivy was well and truly screwed but, as always, she couldn’t help but hope for the best.
The majority of ‘The Girl in the Letter’ is set in the present day, as we follow the life of a journalist who is struggling to find the right balance between her work life, and her life with her daughter. However, without even realising it, something had been sitting under Samantha’s nose for a very long time. With her work hat on, Sam is determined to get to the bottom of the situation without thinking of the consequences. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t help but wonder why she should think of the consequences when she didn’t know where the path would lead. How could Sam foresee the future? She couldn’t.
I finished ‘The Girl in the Letter’ in the early hours of this morning whilst trying to put my jaw back in its rightful position. I knew that my review would take some thinking about, yet despite having all day to formulate some sort of review, I am still struggling to get my opinion out in a way that makes perfect sense. I even demanded that my mother buy this book and, seeing as she isn’t much of a reader, i have to ensure that the books I demand her to read are ones that I feel cannot be missed. And this is certainly one of them.
Whilst the contents of ‘The Girl in the Letter’ makes for quite a hard-hitting, severely intense and emotive read, the entire storyline is written absolutely beautifully and does the theme justice. Emily Gunnis does state at the end of the book that the storyline is a work of fiction, with themes inspired by real life mother and child homes in Ireland. I think that because I knew that women actually endured living in those conditions, gave birth in those conditions, as well as being told that their unborn child was a sin, it hit home a lot more because it was real. I am in still in shock that conditions like these existed and, if the laws were to be the same now here in the UK and I were to think about my current situation as a single mum, I would be in the same position as the women mentioned in this book. Isn’t that scary?
I loved how ‘The Girl in the Letter’ had a historical feel to it, as well as a thick layer of something a lot grittier as it made the suspense level far more intense than I could have ever imagined.
Emily Gunnis’ literary skill blew me away and left me dumbfounded by its beauty. What an enchanting, heart-wrenching, beautifully written and intense read this is. This book gave me everything I could have ever wanted in a storyline, and then some. I fell in love with the story almost straight away and, whilst my heart shattered multiple times throughout, I still found myself loving ‘The Girl in the Letter’ and everything it stands for.
If I were to be asked to choose just ONE book that I think everyone should buy and read urgently, ‘The Girl in the Letter’ would fall from my lips (or my fingers) before the question had even been fully asked. I genuinely cannot recommend this enough, and I truly feel that everyone would be missing out on a diamond of a read if they didn’t get their hands on a copy.
By far one of my all time favourite novels, Emily Gunnis has swooped in as a new favourite author, and one who I will now be watching very, very closely for future releases. Incredible….absolutely incredible.
About the author.
Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is
one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.
Follow her on Twitter @EmilyGunnis
and Facebook @emilygunnisauthor.