Title: The Last Letter from Your Lover
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: July 2011
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Summary: In 1960s London, Jennifer Stirling wakes up with no memories of her life before she woke up. After losing her memories as a result of a car accident, she is desperate to remember who she was before. When she finds a love letter addressed to her and signed by “B” she sets out to discover who this person was who loved her so intensely. In 2003 London, a 30 something journalist discovers this letter in the archives of her downsizing newspaper and is determined to uncover what became of the lovers. The letter strikes a chord with Ellie’s own love life and fuels her interest in bringing their story to the surface.
Why I Recommend: You can’t go wrong with Jojo Moyes, so that is the first reason why I recommend this book. Beyond that, this is a compelling historical fiction novel that shares the story of two challenging romances in two disparate times in history. The first two-thirds of the book follows Jennifer’s story as she seeks to discover her lover and how she came to have a lover given her marital status. Moyes had me guessing who the mysterious “B” would turn out to be as well as trying to put the pieces together to figure out how she came to be in a car accident and who was in the car with her. The 1960s is very clearly unforgiving to women with an independent spirit and it was interesting to see her navigate under such squelching societal expectations. I was really getting some Mad Men vibes here and imagined Jennifer to be of the Betty Draper vein and her husband Laurence to be like a Don Draper. Jennifer’s story doesn’t find a resolution though as the novel switches to 40 years in the future where Ellie is introduced. I was amazed at how quickly I developed a connection to Ellie’s character after spending the majority of the book getting to know Jennifer. I think that’s what sold me on this book and the power of Jojo Moyes, she got me invested in a totally different story line two-thirds of the way through a book without giving me whiplash. Ellie has her own messy love life that she is beginning to see may not be the best for her. She is in love with a married man and seeing her own relationship juxtaposed next to the passionate love of the letters she uncovers has her questioning if her own relationship is worth it. There are some additional flashes to Jennifer’s story that brings her story to a satisfying conclusion. Moyes also highlights the differences in a woman’s ability to be independent in the two eras, which made me wonder how Jennifer’s love story would have played out if it occurred in a time where she had more rights and freedom. Like with other Jojo Moyes novels, this was a solid read that kept me engaged the whole time. It didn’t change my life and I don’t suspect it will stick with me for the long-term, but it’s a book that I think would be liked by nearly anyone who enjoys women’s literature.