Books About Letters: "The Last Letter from Your Lover"
Last month it seemed that every bus in Dublin was plastered with the best thing in the world: A movie about letters based on a book about letters! What an absolute treat. "The Last Letter from Your Lover" starring Shaliene Woodley, Callum Turner, and Felicity Jones was released on Netflix and select theaters worldwide in August 2021. Based on the 2012 bestseller of the same name by author Jojo Moyes, I thought this was the perfect time to crack the spine and the pop the popcorn for a double feature review of "The Last Letter from Your Lover".
In "The Last Letter from Your Lover" Moyes tells the story of wealthy 1960s socialite Jennifer Sterling, unhappily married to asbestosis millionaire Laurence 'Larry' Sterling. When Larry is profiled by the intriguing journalist Anthony O'Hare, O'Hare and Jennifer become close. After a car accident leaving Jennifer with no memories, she discovers letters secreted around that help her discover the story behind where and why she awoke in a London hospital room. Flashing forward to the present day, journalist Ellie discovers letters containing Jennifer's story and begins investigating.
Unfortunately, this was not one of my favorite letter books which I've reviewed for this series. In the past I've explaining how my preference for books about letters tends to lean towards books in which the letters tell the story more than are used to help tell the story (think "The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Society"). In "The Last Letter from Your Lover" letters are more a tool for the plot. It's not likely I would have picked up this albeit well written novel, were it not for the letters link.
I can understand why this is a bestseller -- it has everything to make a romance. Tension and desire, a dash of mystery, and of course the heaping spoonful of tidy resolution. However, I struggle to pinpoint why this novel and I didn't click and ultimately I think I felt a lack of sympathy for the characters which left me reading without connecting. Well written and paced with a clear command of language, setting, and tone this novel is for all intents and purposes a well crafted book about letters. However, it left me wanting.
"The Last Letter from Your Lover" On Screen.
Now, on to the film! What I did enjoy about the novel -- without a spoiler but with a nod to those who have read it -- was the climax between two characters which leads to a pivotal shift in the life of one. And that entire plot was totally absent from the film. While stylistically appealing -- I mean the 60s fashion and French Rivera where like characters themselves in the film -- I found while it was a well directed Romantic period piece, for me the film lacked the made the novel redeemable for me. And please, can someone else tell me if this was on the most mumbly films they've ever sat through? I had the hardest times actually hearing the damn thing!
So there you have it. I would recommend this for a rainy weekend read or watch, with a glass of wine handy. Maybe I'm just too into letters to have relaxed into the story but I am so grateful that stories about letters are getting published and produced. Long live the letter!
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Do you have a book in mind about letters you think I should read and review for "Books About Letters"? Let me know! Send me an email at email@example.com.