Mad Men making money and depending on trophy wives to entertain and stand decorously and quietly by their sides – does true love have a chance? Channeling Noel Coward’s “Brief Encounter,” Jojo Moyes affirms that each person has a soul mate – not necessarily a spouse. In The Last Letter from Your Lover, Moyes carries an intense relationship from the sixties to present day, with so many interruptions and separations, it must be true love.
The dates are important – and Moyes conveniently notes them at the beginning of chapters as she flits back and forth to establish and then flashback on the action. Jennifer, recovering from a car accident, has no memory but uneasy feelings, as her husband escorts her back to their well-appointed mansion to recover. Something – or someone – is missing, and she cannot remember – until she accidentally finds a love letter (not written by her husband) addressed to her.
Eventually, her lover, Anthony (nicknamed Boot) appears, disappears, and then reappears – throughout the story. Boot is a journalist and knows how to write a good letter. Moyes repeats them several times in the storyline, and they become the tangible pieces to an ephemeral affair. Circumstances, fear of losing what they have, and misunderstandings tear them apart again and again. And just when the story seems over, Moyes jump starts it again with a new catalyst.
One of Boot’s letters reappears forty years letter in the newspaper archives, and Ellie Haworth, a young journalist at the paper – who is struggling with her own relationship with a married man – decides to investigate, with hope of finding a juicy feature story. She finds more letters and a post office box that lead her to Jennifer Sterling and the mysterious author of the letters.
Despite the contrived plot and the shallow characters, the story has the redeeming theme of love conquers all – easy to read once you get the rhythm of the time zones, and Moyes instills enough twists to keep it compelling. One of those romances, with lovely British phrasing, that is predictable but still pleasurable – book candy.