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The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

The Letter (2013)

by Kathryn Hughes

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978124,414 (3.65)4



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Kathryn Hughes

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️▫️
PUBLISHER March 19, 2015
PUBLISHED Headline Review

A touching intricately woven tale of love, loss, survival and joy.

Two women, who were born decades apart, lives are intricately woven to create a story of friendship, love and the kindness of strangers that can make a world of difference in a life. Chrissie Skinner lives in Manchester England in the late 1930s. She lives with her controlling parents and in order not to bring shame on the family she is ultimately forced to move to Tipperary, Ireland to live with an aunt.

Tina Craig lives in Manchester in the 1970s and is unhappily married to an abusive and alcoholic husband. She volunteers at a charity shop on Saturdays, and one day while sorting through the pockets of an expensive secondhand suit she comes across an old letter. The letter is firmly sealed, and had never been mailed. Tina opens the letter and finds it was written on September 4, 1939. She's moved by the contents and wonders why the letter was never mailed. She embarks on a major quest to find out what became of both the writer and the intended recipient. The letter had a major impact on her life.

The mystery of how this love letter ended up in Tina's hands is uncovered through Billy Stirling’s story from the late 1930’s. He writes a letter to his love that could change his life forever, but unbeknownst to Billy, that letter will not be delivered for thirty-four years.

THE LETTER is a touching tale of love, loss, survival and joy. The book was immediately engaging. KATHRYN HUGHES has created a page-turning story that will keep you entertained. Chapters alternate between Chrissie, Billy and Tina; and between 1973 and 1939. Despite the various points on view and change in timeframes, the book is remarkably easy to follow. Hughes writing is easy to read. Both Chrissie and Tina’s characters are human, with human strengths and weaknesses; and both grow a great deal emotionally during the course of the book. The ending of the book was throughly satisfying. Overall, it's a creative book and definitely worth the read. ( )
  LisaSHarvey | Aug 19, 2017 |
Beautiful yet heartbreaking story of Tina Craig, an abused wife (1970's) and Chrissy Skinner, a doctor's daughter (1930's). How their worlds unite over an un-posted letter written during the war found tucked away in a donated suit. How their lives although years apart; parallel each other, until they unite in a little village in Ireland. At first, I wasn't so keen on Tina, going back to her abusive husband, and giving him all the excuses he didn't deserve, but understanding how she feels that love will conquer all. My heart broke for her and all of the sadness that she encountered. Then years before, Chrissy Skinner, whose father sent her to live in Ireland with her aunt out of the shame she caused her family. 2 women whose heart wrenching tragedies stemmed from loving the wrong men. Listened to this on Audible Audio - The narrator, although pretty good.. sometimes seemed like she was eating or chewing on something which was annoying. Otherwise, enjoyed it. A few loose ends, but would recommend. ( )
  booklovers2 | Aug 30, 2015 |
THE LETTER by Kathryn Hughes, performed by Rachel Atkins is truly spellbinding! The most captivating, moving and emotional audiobook I have ever read (listened to)—from secrets, loss, pain, sacrifice, and love.

A story of two women whose lives become entwined when one discovers a letter that was written in 1939 but never sent. (never posted; not online posted, but postmarked-stamped). Two powerful stories connect; fate steps in; across history, time, and oceans- for an explosive reunion; a love story so profound- mesmerizing; leaving you utterly speechless when you reach the end; a novel and characters, you will remember long after the book ends.

As the novel begins present day, we hear from a granddaughter and grandmother while visiting in the lovely garden, pulling weeds, (symbols for people in our lives-everything belongs). Readers then hear a tragic and heartbreaking story, told from the loving grandmother; her story, how she met the love of her life- as events unfold, which changed her life.

From Manchester in 1973, the story begins with Tina Craig, a young woman married to a violent and evil man, Rick her husband-controlling, a drunk, lost his job, he drinks, smokes, and gambles and beats her. He has two personalities ranging from good to evil. She has been desperately saving her money in order to escape and leave him; as she has no family or anywhere to turn; however, he finds her money in the coffee can, and now she is doomed once again.

Tina has a wonderful caring friend, Graham at work, and he is worried about her. She also works at a charity shop volunteering and enjoys her customers, where she is not worried about everything she says or does. Her husband gives her money to bet (turns out, it was her coffee money); however, she does not do so, but her friend Graham places the bet for her and wins. He gives her the money, and she offers it to her husband and keeps the part she had saved, and moves out. She is finally happy. The race, March 31, 1973 Grand National horse racing, sealed her fate.

However, Rick cleans up his act, gets a job and quits drinking. He wants her back and says he has changed. She wants so much for a family. She is torn and unsure if he has really changed, but she finds herself pregnant from the last violent time he raped her. When she goes back to pick up her clothes, he slowly turns on the charm and talks her into coming back. Her friends do not share in the joy, as they are very suspicious of Rick, doubting he has really has changed. It works for a while; however, soon thereafter his old ways return. She is afraid for her life and her unborn baby. He is drinking again and this time his violence is the worst ever, leaving her for dead, and baby?

The reason for his anger, is due to The Letter. He finds a letter in her purse. A love letter. Drunk, jealous, and enraged. However, little does he know the letter was one Tina found in one of her customer’s coat pockets; a special love letter from over thirty some years earlier from a solider going off to war, to his pregnant girlfriend.

Tina, now broken and alone, is haunted by the letter, obsessed with finding this Billy and his love. If she cannot be happy, she needs to someone to be. Why didn’t Billy post the letter? Chrissie, the pregnant intended recipient never received this letter. Are they still even alive? Little does Tina know this letter will later change the course of her own life. What became of this couple torn apart? Tina is moved by the contents of the letter but also puzzled as why such a heartfelt message was left in a pocket. She vows to find out what became of Billy and Chrissie.

The second story is of a young woman and man, we meet later in the book, back in 1939- Billy and Chrissie. They are in love. Chrissie’s controlling father, a doctor (one evil cold man), does not like Billy, the boy she is dating. When Chrissie tells Billy she is pregnant he is overwhelmed due to the war, and the economy and unsure about their financial future. He leaves; however, later that evening, he begins to regret his harsh words and writes a letter to Chrissie. 4th September 1939. One of love. He declares his love and asks for her hand in marriage. When he stops by her house the next day the father informs him, she does not wish to see him. (Of course, she is unaware of any of this).

Billy tells her father he has written her a letter and since the postal service is having issues, the father says he will deliver the letter, but he does not. He puts the letter in a coat pocket which is found years later by a woman. Chrissie is heartbroken, wondering why Billy has deserted her.

Of course, the controlling father will not allow his daughter to bring shame upon the family name, so sends her off to a commune to live with hateful evil nuns and is forced to give up the baby. Her mother, dad, and aunt turned their back on her. Her baby is adopted by Americans. Two young women's lives destroyed by evil men and separated from their babies.

Years later the boy, now a man has always wondered about his biological parents, so sets off to England to find answers. Chrissie (the biological mother)’s life in England is left empty of the life taken away from her so cruelly.

In his search abroad, William runs into Tina working at the library, and tells her of his search for his birth mother and father. She has The Letter which will connect the two stories. The two of them, strangers, begin the search for the owners of the letter, William’s parents to solve the mystery of a past life.

A letter which caused the death of one child, and the saving grace for another. When the two storylines connect, it is one of the most powerful reunions. Ordinary women who overcome extraordinary heartache. A beautiful poignant ending.

Wow, I am not an emotional person; however, here I was traveling, driving in rush hour traffic with iPod, with tears rolling down my face, to the point I could barely see. The reunion scene was the most emotional and vivid scene, making you feel as though you were there. Rachel Atkins' performance was award-winning, even her voice was broken, and cracking, as she was speaking. I was literally hanging on every word, feeling the powerful emotion, pain, and feelings.

Hughes and Atkins were in perfect sync. Hughes writing is amazing, and the way she created both storylines with pitch perfect pacing, and fabulous character development. Please, let this be the narrator for the next book. While in Costco, I finished the book, and re-listened to the last four chapters on the way home once again. It is that powerful; highly recommend the audio version.

Not sure how I missed this stunning book along the way, however, I stumbled upon the audiobook (released May 7, 2015) on Audible and was hooked the first five minutes to the end. Could not put it down until I finished. (Oct 18, 2015 Paperback)

Hard to believe this is a debut! Can understand why it hit number one on the Amazon Kindle Chart, spending 130 days in the top 100 with 2,000 reader reviews. I have since read, world rights including film have been attained from this self-published book (I want a front row seat), and cannot wait for her second book, coming in 2016. A definite pre-order. Kathryn Hughes has a rare talent, and trust me when I say, this gal can write and oh, can Rachel Atkins perform!

A thought-provoking novel, The Letter, a story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman's devastation leads to the other's salvation. My Top 30 AudioBooks of 2015, Hughes has been added to my favorite author list. SCORE 5 Stars+

For readers who enjoy historical fiction and a suspenseful love story, recommend, The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley by Susan Ornbratt. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1177817599 ( )
  JudithDCollins | Jun 13, 2015 |
It was just ok, could have been better but too many coincidences and not enough depth. One for when you are on holiday. ( )
  ssellis | Jan 11, 2015 |
This is a dual time narrative story with a lot of the elements that I enjoy in a book, but I'm afraid this one wasn't for me. In 1973, abused wife Tina finds a letter, written in 1939 by Billy, a young man on the verge of going off to war. He was writing to his love, Chrissie, but for some reason the letter never found its way to her. Tina decides that she wants to try to deliver the letter.

I was looking forward to this book but it just didn't do anything for me. I know it's had a lot of 5* reviews which is great, but I found the writing lacked depth and there were too many convenient coincidences to make the story come together. Ultimately, I just found it all a bit lame. ( )
  nicx27 | Jan 6, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathryn Hughesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Atkins, RachelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Every so often a love story comes along to remind us that sometimes, in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way ... Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it - a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever ... Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does - in more ways than he can ever imagine ... The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman's devastation leads to the other's salvation.… (more)

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