I can’t believe it’s just over three years since Beth Miller appeared on Linda’s Book Bag when I reviewed her non-fiction book For the Love of Shakespeare in a post you can read here. Today, thanks to the lovely folk at Bookouture, I’m delighted to review Beth’s latest novel, The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright.
The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright will be released by Bookouture on 9th January 2020 and is available for pre-order here.
The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright
Sometimes it takes losing something to see where you truly belong.
For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop hoping to finally sell the legendary gold pen, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.
But now Ursula has stopped writing and everything is a little bit worse.
Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. She has always been the person Kay relies on.
Worried, Kay gets out her shoebox of Ursula’s letters and as she reads, her unease starts to grow. And then at ten o’clock in the morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…
My Review of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright
When Kay leaves her husband for adventure it isn’t quite what she expected.
What a refreshing change to read a book with a slightly older protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversational tone in the first person parts that focus on Kay because it felt like we were chatting together, with an old friend taking me into their confidence. It took me longer to warm to Kay’s daughter Stella, but she gained my sympathy by the end of the narrative and I thought she worked extremely well as a counterpoint and balance to Kay and brought considerable humour to lighten the tone. I loved the concept presented by Beth Miller that age is no barrier to errors, adventure, success and chance. I also found Bear (or Ursula) hugely engaging and her inclusion with Alice and Rose meant that Beth Miller has woven her story around women representative of so many of her readers so that there is a character for them all to identify with.
The plot of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright is very engaging, and I can envisage many women of Kay’s age metaphorically nodding their heads in agreement with her right the way through the story. There’s a wonderful irony that, in order to find herself, Kay has to travel to the other side of the world. And, speaking of destinations, I found the descriptions of Venice especially evocative. The sights, sounds and wonderful food create a vivid atmosphere.
As might be expected with a book where a fifty-something woman, Kay, is at its heart, the themes of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright are pertinent and thought-provoking, because Kay has the maturity to look upon them from a position of experience. Friendship and family, love and relationships, living and dying all feature exactly as they might in real life so that I found the overall message of carpe diem strongly and effectively illustrated.
The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright is entertaining and ultimately uplifting. It made me realise that this is not a practice run at life, but the real thing and that I should grasp it in both hands and live every moment to the full – and my fullest potential.
About Beth Miller
Beth Miller’s varied career has included roles as a sexual health trainer, journalist, psychology lecturer, PhD student and inept audio-typist. She is the author of three novels, When We Were Sisters, The Good Neighbour and The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom, as well as two non-fiction books: For the Love of Shakespeare and For the Love of the Archers.