Book Review: “The Girl In The Letter”

the girl in the letter

Like “The Things We Cannot Say”, which Illustrations Ed Manon and I both loved, this is a dual-period story.

The present-day part of the story is set (at a whirlwind pace, over three days) in 2017; the historical part is set principally in the late 1950s. Although other dates and events in the interim period are featured, too.

In the present day, we meet Sam Harper. She’s 25, and mum to little Emma, while also working in a challenging job as a journalist.

Going through a tricky spell with her partner, Ben, she’s helped out enormously by her lovely Nana.

While babysitting Emma one day, Nana discovers some letters which have lain undiscovered in her late husband’s paperwork.

A window into another world

The letters are a window into another world. The world of Ivy, a young girl who finds herself expecting, unexpectedly, in 1956.

Unable to contact her beloved boyfriend, Ivy must face the stony silence of her mother and the wrath of her mother’s husband alone.

But worse is to come, when the family doctor suggests a solution: sending Ivy to a mother and baby home.

While Ivy’s heart-breaking story unfolds through her unanswered letters, in the present day Sam tries to find out just who the girl in the letter was.

She knows that, somehow, there’s a link with a Father Benjamin, who went missing in 1999, and whose body was found in mysterious circumstances years later.

Why was a well-known TV talk-show host at Father Benjamin’s inquest? Why were Ivy’s letters in Grandad’s possession?

And with documents missing and destroyed, and the mother and baby home due for demolition any day, will there be time to get to the bottom of it all?

By turns gripping, shocking and exciting, this page-turner may make you miss your bus stop. I did, on more than one occasion!

“The Girl In The Letter” is the debut novel of Emily Gunnis, one of the four daughters of much-loved author Penny Vincenzi.

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Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!