Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Letter by Kathryn Hughes



1973

Tina Craig has one mission in life – to escape her drunken, abusive husband. She works all the hours she can to save up enough money to leave him. She spends as little time as possible in the violent household she is forced to call home, even volunteering at a charity shop at the weekend to escape Rick’s clutches. One day, whilst sorting through the pockets of a second-hand suit which has been donated to the shop, she comes across an old letter. It is still firmly sealed and unfranked. Unable to resist the pull of curiosity, Tina opens the letter. It was written on 4th September 1939. She is so moved by the contents and bemused as to why the letter was never delivered, she embarks on a quest to find out what became of the writer and his intended recipient, a journey with consequences she could never have predicted.


1939

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but he also knows how to put things right. On 4th September, 1939 he sits down to write a letter that will change his life forever. He slips it into his jacket pocket and, with a spring in his step, and full of optimism, he heads for the nearest post box. How was he to know that his heartfelt missive would not be read for another 34 years, and then by a complete stranger?

The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, but whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman’s devastation leads to the other’s salvation.



The prologue to this book has a lovely start with a grandmother in the garden talking to her granddaughter, it is sweet and gentle. Chapter one had such a violent beginning I wondered if I was reading the same book but right away my heart went out to Tina in her struggle for survival. She was a very likable character but tested my patience when she returned time and time again to her abusive husband and I just knew it would end in tragedy.
She had a friend in Graham, an older man who owned the bookies next door to the charity shop where she volunteered. I felt she used his friendship a bit too much especially as he was married but he did save her skin a few times.
I enjoyed the two parts of the story equally and the way they inevitably came together was well thought out.
In chapter four in 1939 we meet Billy and Chrissie and their parents. Chrissie's dictatorial father made my blood boil and he is also the catalyst in changing everyone's lives for the worse including his own.
The letter that Tina finds in a jacket in the charity shop in 1973 puts her in extreme danger but also has her embark on a journey which could eventually bring her the happiness she has craved.

There are a few books with the title of The Letter published at the moment but this is the first one I've read. There is always a good story in someone finding and reading a letter written years ago and perhaps full of secrets.The difference with this letter is, it was never posted,the recipient didn't get to read the words that would have made three lives so very different.
 This is such an easy read as you will find it hard to put down. I cried buckets of tears reading it, some were sad tears and some were happy. I became so frustrated at the injustice towards women in the 1940's and at how they were made to suffer the consequences of  mistakes they made. How people who could have helped made life unbearable. In a good book you have to love some characters and hate at least one and that is exactly what I found in this book.
This is a debut novel by Katherine Hughes and it's a great first book, I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Thank you to Troubador Publishing who provided me with a e-copy of this book in exchange for a truthful review.
The letter by Kathryn Hughes Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

Five stars for a great read 

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