1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London...
Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.
He promised to love her forever...
Sixty years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan's words she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it's too late?
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
You have to read this book! With a job, stressed husband and a demanding three year old, it is rare nowadays that I stay up until the early hours reading but I simply had to with this book as it was impossible to put down.
I kept on seeing Letters to the Lost popping up on blogs and in magazines and nobody had a bad word to say about it. I remembered that I had a review copy so decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Iona Grey has written a completely brilliant, beautiful, sweeping love story. The book flits between the early 1940s and 2011 and I loved both time periods.
Stella Thorne married Reverend Charles Thorne in 1942. She had been working as his housekeeper which was a huge opportunity after leaving the Poor School. It soon becomes apparent to Stella that their marriage is not to be full of the love and contentment that she had imagined. Charles only wants to spend time with his friend Peter and their wedding night is a disaster. Days after marrying, Charles reveals that he has signed up for the war and before she knows it, Stella's new husband has gone.
Stella, like many women during the war, struggles on and tries to make the most of it. On a trip to London with her friend Nancy, Stella meets American bomber Dan Rosinski and their attraction is instant. Stella falls in love with him and Dan promises that he will wait for her, no matter what happens in the war and her marriage to Charles.
In 2011, Jess Moran is squatting in a deserted house, hiding from her abusive boyfriend. A letter is delivered from Dan Rosinski saying that he does not have long left and that he is desperate to find Stella; he has been waiting for her for over 60 years. Jess is intrigued and finds many more letters in the house between Stella and Dan; she is intrigued by their beautiful love story and determined to find out what happened to Stella, why didn't she wait for Dan? Jess is soon helped by Will Holt; he works for a firm placing heirs with lost estates and he comes across Jess when he is searching for Nancy Price who he believed was the owner of the house that Jess is squatting in. Will too becomes determined to find Stella and along the way he realises that he wants to help Jess too. He can see how hard her life has been and he wants more than anything to make her happy. As the story goes back and forth we learn more about Stella and Dan's relationship during the war and the circumstances which led to their estrangement.
Letters to the Lost is a book that will stay with me for a long time and I know that it is one I will re-read. The characters are just perfect; two believable and interesting female leads and two very genuine and lovable male characters.
So much is explored in this book; it was particularly interesting to read more about the position of women during the 1940's. Stella and Dan's relationship would have been very different if carried out now. I loved the mirroring of Will and Jess's relationship and I enjoyed reading about them as much as I did about Stella and Dan.
This book really is fabulous, the writing is beautiful and the plot expertly executed. Iona Grey has delivered an excellent debut and is very clearly one to watch out for.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a review copy.