The Last Letter From Your Lover – Jojo Moyes – 4/10

This was the pick for the Open University Student
Book Club
and as there was an opportunity to win books, of course I went to
get this from the library… I have to say I was disappointed by the OU choice –
I would have expected a university book club to come up with something a bit
stronger. I should state at this point that I have no time at all for
infidelity – there is no excuse, and I’m tired of reading books about it.

This chronicles two affairs carried out in London – one in
1960s London where the wife of a mining magnate is unfaithful with a
journalist, and one in the early 2000s where a journalist has an affair with a
married author.

The 1960s wife has just awoken from a coma after a car crash
with no memory of anything before the crash, and attempts to piece her life
back together through her distant husband, vivacious girlfriends and aloof
mother. When she encounters letters addressed to her from an anonymous lover,
she realises that the distance she feels from her husband is not imagined, and
sets about trying to find the journalist. We see (in alternating chapters) her
life before the car crash, so we know all about the affair when she doesn’t –
which I found irritating. Better either to present the affair, the crash and
the resolution, or for us to learn about the affair with and alongside her.

Even more confusingly, we have interleaved with this a
terrible Bridget-Jones style story of a fairly useless journalist who can’t
stand her manager and is grumpy because her boyfriend, an author with a wife
and a small child, isn’t at her beck and call. I found Ellie irritating and
alienating, not least because she seemed to gain nothing at all from the
affair, which (of course) turns out to be rather expensive for everyone
involved.

Only the couple in love in the 1960s are reasonable
characters – everyone else (including the modern protagonists) are dull and
flat. Mostly it feels like this novel was written intentionally direct for
screen. I did find the scenes in the Riviera and the ideas of 1960s London and
the African conflict around the same time engrossing; and I loved where one of
the characters turned out to have ended up, but not enough to make up for the apathy
of the rest of the characters and plot.

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