Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.
Author : Sarah Mitchell
Title : The Lost Letters
Pages : 322
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : August 2, 2018
Canada, present day
When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.
Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.
But the tragedy of war brings heartbreaking choices. And a promise made between the two women will echo down the years, and could change everything for Martha…
Dual timeline historical fiction set in World War II? Don’t mind if I do!
The story starts with Martha whose father recently passed away. He was in the middle of writing his memoirs but the first twenty years of his life are missing. Amongst his effects, Martha and her sister find letters to someone called Catkins and a reservation for a hotel and beach hut in Norfolk. Martha seizes this opportunity to cross the Atlantic to look for answers.
In the chapters dealing with the past, we meet Sylvie. Her husband is away fighting in the war and she’s left to raise her two children on her own. When her aunt dies, Sylvie suddenly finds herself in possession of a beach hut. One day, she meets Connie and their friendship will change lives forever.
What started out a bit on the slow side, soon had me enthralled. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to get to know Martha and she quite often made me smile. With chapters switching between Martha in the present and Sylvie in the past, there is quite a lot to enjoy. Sylvie’s story provides the perfect background, whereas Martha’s is mostly where the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. Just when I thought I had figured it all out, the author led me in a different direction. There are plenty of twists in this story but they all felt quite natural.
Part of the story deals with the topic of the evacuation of children. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been for everyone involved. For a parent to decide that they need to let their children go in order to keep them safe is not a choice any parent is willing to make. Will they ever see their children again? For the children who are sent away, to end up in a foreign country with people they don’t know … doesn’t bear thinking about. And we all know from history that not all the children were lucky enough to be treated well.
The Lost Letters is a thought-provoking and moving story about identity, family and friendship. With realistic and believable characters, clues to find and a mystery to solve, this will keep you entertained for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and if a historical fiction mystery set in WWII is your thing, I have no doubt you will too.
The Lost Letters is available to buy!
After graduating from Cambridge University, Sarah Mitchell practised as a barrister in London for 20 years, working in the field of human rights and European Law. She was tempted to write fiction for a long while and finally signed up for an introductory creative writing course with the Open University. Two years later she took a sabbatical from the bar to do an MA in Creative Writing at the UEA and has never looked back. THE LOST LETTERS is her first novel, inspired by a walk on the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea to calm her nerves before starting the MA, and the decision her grandparents almost made to evacuate her mother to Canada at the start of the Second World War. Sarah now lives back in Norfolk – where she grew up – with her husband and three almost-grown-up children, and combines writing with some legal work.
Author links : Twitter