Summary and book reviews of Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

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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Book Summary

An accomplished novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is a stunning, emotional love story.

An accomplished debut novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page.  Iona Grey's prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can't bear to let them go.

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 love that draws them together.  Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five.  The odds are stacked against the pair; 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 a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton.


About the Author
Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

1
London, February 2011

It was a nice part of London. Respectable. Affluent. The shops that lined the street in the villagey center were closed and shuttered but you could tell they were posh, and there were restaurants—so many restaurants—their windows lit up like wide-screen TVs showing the people inside. People who were too well-mannered to turn and gawp at the girl running past on the street outside.

Not running for fitness, wearing Lycra and headphones and a focused expression, but messily, desperately, with her short skirt riding up to her knickers and her unshod feet splashing through the greasy puddles on the pavement. She'd kicked off her stupid shoes as she left the pub, knowing she wouldn't get far wearing them. Platform stilettos; the twenty-first-century equivalent of a ball and chain.

At the corner she hesitated, chest heaving. Across the road was a row of shops with an alleyway at the side; behind, the pounding echo of feet. She ran again, seeking...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. To what extent is Jess a modern day version of Stella? What are the similarities and differences in their characters and situations?
  2. Do you perceive Charles as being the perpetrator of injustice, or as much as a victim of attitudes of the time as Stella?
  3. Will would never describe himself as hero material. Would you?
  4. Stella wonders how she could have done things differently, to change what happened. Given the restrictions of the time, what could she have done?
  5. Will and Jess are from very different backgrounds. How likely is it that their relationship will stand the test of time?
  6. Do you think the novel presents a positive view of the 1940s, or a negative one?
  7. Stella and Nancy share the same background and upbringing, yet it has ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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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.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (741 words).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

Grey's engaging, poignant, and romantic debut treats readers to an absorbing story within a story. Her detailed narrative chronicles the lives of these intriguing characters while fluidly traveling from past to present.

Author Blurb Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The Ashford Affair
Letters to the Lost is a powerful debut, one of those rare books that grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. It's a heart-wrenching, smile-through-the-tears story of love lost and refound - you won't be able to put it down!

Author Blurb Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker and A Touch of Stardust
Letters to the Lost pulsates with life, offering a vibrant love story that transcends time and the heartbreak of war. Settle in somewhere comfortable; you are in for an enthralling read.

Reader Reviews

sandra causer

enchanting
I have read scores of books and enjoyed most of them,but this one kept me captivated to the end,even though you really new what the end could be.I have never wrote a review for a book before,but wanted to say how touching this book is.This book was ...   Read More

Anniep

Letters to the Lost
I approached this book with a bit of trepidation, but after a few pages my doubts vanished as I was slinking along dark streets with a young girl, worrying about being spotted by not only a pursuer but others who might see us and expose us. After a ...   Read More

Carol P. (Mendham, NJ)

Love lost and found
I love this beautiful story. I truly enjoyed the parallel stories of Dan and Stella in 1943 and Jess and Will in present day! Dan a WWII American airman falls in love with Stella a married woman. Seventy years later Jess has found Dan's letters to ...   Read More

Cathy M. (Milwaukee, WI)

Timeless Love
In Letters to the Lost we meet two couples, Jess and Will from the present time and Stella and Dan from the WWII era. Both couples are deeply in love. Even though I didn't feel as much of a connection to Jess and Will, the story of Stella and Dan ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Epistolary Novels

Epistolary novels are not new – Bram Stoker's Dracula, for example, was published in 1879, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein even earlier, in 1818. The form, which is not limited to letters, (nor to horror novels!) but also includes journal entries, newspaper clippings, emails, and other forms of correspondence, has held appeal, perhaps, because of its inherent hush-hush nature: the main character seems to share a secret with the reader, something meant for his or her own eyes, or one other beloved's eyes. The reader feels lucky to be included in the communication. Whatever the reason, the epistolary novel continues to be written, and enjoyed. Iona Grey's debut novel, Letters to the Lost, is one such novel. Here are 10 others. It is not ...

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