Title: Letters to the Lost
Author: Iona Grey
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publish Date: May 25, 2015
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "I promised to love
you forever, in a time when I didn't know if I'd live to see the start
of another week. Now it looks like forever is finally running out. I
never stopped loving you. I tried, for the sake of my own sanity, but I
never even got close, and I never stopped hoping either.
Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can't help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.
In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable attraction that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival are one in five. In the midst of such uncertainty, the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in this powerfully moving novel."
My Two Cents:
"Letters to the Lost" is a story told in two times: the first time is during the height of World War II and the second time is much more recent. As the story unfolds, we see how the characters in both the past and more recent time twist together. The World War II story line was much more captivating to me: a hidden love story of lovers torn apart is one of my favorite tropes and so I was so interested to see what happened between Stella and Dan and how they were first brought together so forcefully only to be torn apart.
The story unfolded fairly slowly for me at first but I read this book as a group read and it was the group that kept me going until my interest took off a little more later on in the book. The more present day story felt very much like simply a vehicle for the past story until the very end when light is shed on what happened to Stella and Dan. Jess and the other characters in the more present day story did not seem to be as well developed as the characters in the past story, which made them not nearly as interesting and those parts of the books go rather slow.
The detail in the WWII sections of the book were really great. I loved the descriptions of what the characters were doing and thinking as the world was going through such chaos around them. I loved the juxtaposition of the chaos of war and the enduring human feeling of love between Stella and Dan. It's these descriptions that make this book particularly bittersweet.
Overall, this book was good but I wanted to be more engaged with the present day story and I wanted the book to feel more balanced. Because of the ending, the present day story needed to be there but I wanted some more punch. The descriptions made this book a great treat for the historical fiction lover in me.