Blog Tour Review, Letters to a Stranger

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Letters to a Stranger
Sarah Mitchell

319 pages
published March 9, 2023

Amazon | Goodreads

Book Description:

England, 1940. Dearest Ruby, you must have heard the news by now. The very worst has happened. Our countries are at war. What can I do? How can I stop this nightmare from happening? One day soon we’ll be together again. I swear. I love you. E. Present day. Ruby Summers has lived an extraordinary life. Now, at ninety-six years old and living in a quiet countryside retirement home, Ruby may be an elderly lady, but her memory remains perfect.

She remembers the summer in rural Norfolk eighty years ago when she fell in love with Edmondo, and the stolen moments spent in the orchard dreaming of their future. But tears fill her green eyes when she also remembers the September morning they embraced as they listened to war being declared on the wireless. As her village turned against Edmondo and his Italian family, Ruby knew she would be forced to make an impossible choice – one that would lead to a betrayal her heart never recovered from, and an earth-shattering secret she has never shared…

But when lonely Ruby decides to take part in a letter-writing scheme for the elderly, and single mother Cassie replies, she realises this could be her chance. Her last chance. By revisiting her past, can she finally share the secret that has haunted her for all these years? And will her unexpected connection with Cassie unearth truths even Ruby never knew were hidden – or will it tear both their lives apart?

This totally gripping and irresistible story of wartime love and heartbreak will captivate readers who love Lorna Cook, Fiona Valpy and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

My Review

This is outside my normal read.  A dual timeline told in letters, texts and emails shouldn’t work, but it does and beautifully.  Ruby and Cassie don’t know each other, but through a strange twist, become pen pals.  I was mesmerized by their story and can’t believe the author wove a world war II love story with a timeline set during the pandemic and was able to draw such a correlation.

The characters are engaging and likable.  The story is smartly plotted and written.  It reminds those of us old enough to have written letters, that they can be powerful.  And hopefully introduces this idea to a whole new generation.  I loved that instead of the hate that seems to stem from anonymity (is it really?) on social media, that these two women bonded over their lives and their secrets.  And the story with a few secrets of its own, surprised me more than once.

I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a unique and fascinating read.  And don’t be put off by the thought of it being too soon to read a pandemic story.  This one won’t leave that same bitter taste in your mouth.

Author Bio:

Sarah Mitchell grew up in Norfolk and studied law at Cambridge University. She practised as a barrister in London for nearly 20 years before turning to writing. Sarah and her husband now live in beautiful North Norfolk with three almost-grown-up children, an extremely affectionate dog and a horse called Joey.  Her debut novel, THE LOST LETTERS, was inspired by her parents’ experiences in the Second World War and her desire to explore the heart-breaking impact of the war on women and children. By contrast, THE COUPLE is a dark psychological thriller that twins themes of right and wrong with the age-old complication of an all-consuming past love. Her third novel, THE ENGLISH GIRL is a story inspired by an incredible true love story, a beautiful, sweeping tale of hope, courage and heart-breaking choices. Now, her fourth novel, LETTERS TO A STRANGER, explores themes of love, betrayal and redemption, through the eyes of young Ruby Summers who is forced to make an impossible decision when Italy joins the Second World War and her village turns against the love of her life.  You can find Sarah on Twitter.

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