Violet Ackerman has drifted through a career, four children and a divorce without ever knowing who she is or what she wants. After moving to the coast, she starts receiving a series of mysterious letters sent from a mother and baby home in 1959, written by a pregnant twenty-year-old Elizabeth to her best friend. These letters intersperse Violet's turbulent relationships with her lover, her infuriating son and the eccentric fellow members of the Village Committee. Who is sending Violet these letters, and why? What will happen to Elizabeth's baby? The Letters invites us see what happens when we don't run away. Will love be enough to encourage Violet to stay?
After having read both The Blue Handbag and Thaw by Fiona Robyn, I was interested to read her novel The Letters. I was not disappointed. Robyn has an amazing ability to capture human emotion and have the reader become invested in the characters of the book.
Violet is a middle-aged woman who is exploring her life after divorce and after a breakup with Tom. Robyn describes Violet's somewhat ordinary life with such realism and accuracy - she has a way of including the mundane everyday activities of a person and incorporating them into the story, which adds a bit of vibrance and real-life presence.
And the letters... I am a fan of epistolary novels, where the author uses letters or diaries to bring forth the story. The inclusion of letters from Elizabeth to Bea within the novel is quite interesting. Even a one-sided story of Elizabeth's pregnancy and her time in a mother and baby home is clear and captivating, without Bea's response, or any additional background. The mystery of why Violet may be receiving the letters is left to the last pages. I thought that I had discovered the mystery of the letters early on, but I was mistaken. The truth that unfolded was very well done.
Having read and reviewed all of Fiona Robyn's novels now, I can absolutely profess myself as a fan. I recommend The Letters for lovers of fiction and women's fiction and I look forward to additional novels by Robyn.
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