Ellie is in the middle of an affair with a married man, John, that is distracting her from her work for The National newspaper, putting both her job and happiness at risk. In the past Jenny is the married participant in another all consuming passionate affair with Anthony, or Boot as she calls him. When Ellie finds letters in the newspaper archives written from Boot to Jennifer Stirling a chain of events unfolds that weaves past and present together in a spell binding read.
Circumstances meant that I read this story by Jojo Moyes over several months and I think it is testament to the quality of her writing that I never needed to go back over previous reading or remind myself of the characters and narrative. The lives of Ellie and John, Jenny and Anthony remained with me through other novels and events in my own life because they were so well depicted it was as if I was returning to catch up with people I really knew well.
What Jojo Moyes does exceptionally well is convey the human quality of her characters with all their self-delusions, faults and dreams so that the reader is deeply moved by those they come to love. I was desperate for Ellie to find happiness, but as the book progresses, it is by no means clear that she will. Similarly, the grief and wasted opportunity felt by Jenny affected me like a personal blow. I found Jennifer the more appealing female in this story.
Love and loss, self awareness, grief and happiness are the universal themes of our lives and Jojo Moyes conveys them with skill and realism. I’ve enjoyed every one of her books and this was no exception.