BookBrowse Reviews Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

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Letters to the Lost

by Iona Grey

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey X
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
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  • First Published:
    May 2015, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2016, 384 pages

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Part historical fiction, part romance, and part mystery, this debut novel's characters find hope and power in love.

BookBrowse readers are very excited about Letters to the Lost by debut author Iona Grey. 18 out of 21 reviews gave it a 4 or a 5. It's not hard to see why – this novel has something for almost everyone!

Reader, be warned. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy and a clear calendar for the next few days. You will not want to put this book down until the final page and even then the characters stay with you. Letters to the Lost is historical fiction meets love story meets mystery (Judi R). This is a novel that romantics will love! An American pilot stationed in England during the Blitz meets an unhappily married young woman, and despite his foreboding that he won't fulfill his requisite twenty-five missions, these star-crossed lovers immortalize their love in dozens of letters. Seventy (!) years later, a young squatter in an abandoned home becomes fascinated with the discovered correspondence, and the tale picks up with her search for the writers (Marion W). Letters to the Lost shows that love can be forever. From World War II to the present day, the book shifts back and forth to show how love can be lost and found in any time (Mary Ann B). Letters to the Lost has numerous surprises: unexpected actions of the characters, decisions that defy present-day logic, themes of violence in war and at home, unlikely liaisons. Although the themes are romantic, the pathways are not always obvious (De C).

Readers were impressed with the ease with which Iona Grey navigated between the twentieth century and today:
Readers travel seamlessly back and forth between WWII and the present through Dan's letters to Stella, at the same time learning what fighter pilots and those on the home front endured. In the present, Jess takes up the search for Dan while trying to turn her own life around (Linda M). Grey delivers each bit of new information on the love story like it's a puzzle piece. We look forward to every new piece. In the end all the puzzles pieces fit together beautifully (Cathy M).

They also loved the use of letters as both a structural and story-based choice:
The use of actual written letters as a way to describe the life of the characters was not overdone but rather (as the title suggests) plays an important part as it enhances and deepens connections to the story (Jean G). The use of letters also adds excitement and suspense. We get into the hearts and souls of these lovers through their letters to each other (Cathy M). When I saw the format, letters from WWII, I was wary but interested…I do not want to give the plot away so I will just say that truly, I could not put the book down (Helen M).

Although some readers had a bit of critique about the length and flow of the story, they all thought it was well written and captivating:
I did finish the book as I was curious to see how it would all work out in the end but I think I would have liked it more if it was a little bit shorter (Eve A). There were some storylines that were not pulled together, but the writing was very good (Joy Z). It would have been a 5-star read for me if there had been a little more editing to keep the action moving. However, for the most part the characters are very likeable and believable, and the story well written (Betty B). The story is laconic at first, but picks up and becomes intriguing, heart breaking, and joyful (Susan P).

Finally, they recommended it widely:
Two beautiful love stories. Both take place in London, one during WWII the other in 2011. A good historical fiction read. This would be good for book clubs (Dorothy H). An excellent book club choice (Susan J). Those who enjoy a good love story with realistic twists and turns will love this book. It will stay with you long after the last page is read (Linda M). Iona Grey has written a book that begs to be discussed and would make a good choice for book groups who enjoy talking about characterizations (Janet H). I would recommend this story for anyone interested in WWII and true love stories! Great for a bookclub to discuss changes in social mores between 1943 and 2011 (Carol P). A good summer read (Barbara M).

This review was originally published in June 2015, and has been updated for the May 2016 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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