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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Letters To A Stranger

By: Sarah Mitchell ISBN: 9781803149530

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 03/09/2023

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

Dearest E. I thought of you today, like I do every day. I hope you are safe. I’m scared that you are not. And that it’s all my fault. But know this forever – I love you. R. x

It is summer 1939 and, even in rural Norfolk, no one can ignore the fact that the world is on the brink of war. But seventeen-year-old Ruby is trying her best to. She’s young, she’s beautiful, and she’s in love – with her childhood sweetheart Edmondo. She wants to close her eyes to her parents’ fear, her brother’s determination to sign up, and the sudden mistrust from the people in her village towards Edmondo’s Italian family…

But then everything changes. And Ruby makes a decision that will mean she has to keep a secret from everyone she knows, maybe forever…

Until, eighty years later in spring 2020, she finds herself, as an elderly woman, taking part in a letter-writing scheme. It’s simply meant to stave off boredom, but when she begins corresponding with a total stranger – a young single mother named Cassie – an unexpected and beautiful friendship develops. And Ruby realises she has a chance to share that secret – before it dies with her.

But Ruby and Cassie’s lives are connected in ways they could never have imagined. And, as letters fly between them, truths will be revealed. Truths with the power to either destroy their new friendship, or give both women the chance to change their lives forever…

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

My Review

Sarah Mitchell's LETTERS TO A STRANGER is an exquisite multi-generational story of love, loss, and family secrets

At the heart of this unique, heartfelt novel is a shattering loss that irrevocably changes the lives of a cast of complex, unforgettable, and endearing characters.

A heartrending tale of two women, Cassie (young) and Ruby (old), with dual timelines: the 2020 pandemic and World War II—told in a fresh, clever way in its entirety solely through letters, emails, diary entries, and text messages.

These two brave women will connect in ways they cannot imagine.

England 1939, Ruby, age seventeen, is in love with her childhood sweetheart, Edmondo. With the war approaching, she cannot believe the hatred in her village toward Edomondo's Italian family.

Ruby makes a critical decision that will mean she has to keep a secret from everyone she knows, maybe forever…

Present day. 2020 Ruby Summers has lived a full life. She was also an influential scientist that saved the lives of many— and now, at age ninety-six, living in a quiet countryside retirement home, her memories are still vivid. She takes part in a letter-writing scheme with a total stranger, Cassie.

Ruby may be an elderly lady, but her memory remains perfect. Will she finally share her secret with this stranger?

"The great advantage of old age is that some memories fade to dust while others retain such colour that they continue to brighten every day."

2020: Cassie is a young single mother who escapes London to the countryside with her six-year-old son, Noah, during COVID pandemic. He has recently recovered from Leukemia, and due to his weakened immune system, she moves out of the house with her partner, Stuart, the dentist, since he is around patients and high risk. She rents a caravan.

Noah's school created the letter-writing scheme; Ruby and Cassie, two strangers, become entwined with each other's lives through letters.

The 'past' follows Ruby through her diary entries and letters written to her from various others people, family, and friends and her Italian boyfriend, Edmondo.

Is Edmondo the son of a traitor? Will they find one another again?

I particularly loved Ruby since I appreciate the wisdom of this generation and the heartaches and journey they have traveled. We learn so much about this brave, intelligent woman as she slowly tells her story through the war and after. From grief, regrets, forgiveness, and long-held secrets.

I also enjoyed Cassie's story in the present day and how their lives are interconnected. A story of hope in the face of war and present uncertainty.

"Whenever you're away and I want to hear your voice all I'll have to do is unfold a piece of paper and you'll be standing next to me. It's the closest thing I can think to magic."

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, the author tells of her inspiration from an article in The Week about how the Head of a primary school encouraged children to become penfriends with the residents of a care home during the pandemic. The untold stories and her love of letters.

My first book by this talented author, and I cannot wait to read more.

LETTERS TO A STRANGER is a bittersweet tale of loss, destiny, and the strings of deep love that bind us together over the years. This heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate will transport you and may just inspire you to write your own letter.

For fans of authors Kathryn Hughes, Patti Callahan Henry, and Kristin Harmel.

Thank you to #Bookouture and #NetGalley for a gifted e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: March 9, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author

Sarah grew up in Norfolk and studied law at Cambridge University which led to a career as a barrister, working mainly in the field of human rights. After nearly twenty years she was tempted off-track by a creative writing course at the Open University and fell in love with making up stories instead of constructing arguments. Three years later she completed, with distinction, an MA in Creative Writing – Prose Fiction at the UEA.

Now she lives in Norfolk again, this time with her husband and three almost-grown-up children, where she combines writing with some legal work – and thanking her enormous number of lucky stars. READ MORE







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