Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A book that made me slow down.

I'm a fast reader.  I average somewhere between five and seven books a week, depending on how busy the week is.  Generally, it's a good thing: I get to read more books.  If there's a drawback to it, it's that I have less time to live inside the pages when a book delights me.  They're often simply over too soon.

Last week I read The Last Letter from Your Lover, by Jojo Moyes.  This is a book that laments lost things: love, opportunities, and language.  The bulk of the book takes place in 1960 and 1964, when beautiful, heart-felt love letters were written between the mysterious "B" and the elegant Jennifer Stirling, a society wife who resembled Grace Kelly.  There's a striking disconnect between these scenes and those telling the more harried modern day tale of Ellie, a journalist who tries to uncover the secrets behind these letter, which she's found.  Nearly everything that was delightfully sophisticated and languid about the early stories disappears in the modern story, which serves to cleverly illustrate Moyes' elegy to the lost language of love.  There is a bittersweet atmosphere to the book; in fact, if you liked Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this would be a good one to try next.

The Last Letter from Your Lover was the rare book that slowed me down.  It took me a full three days to read it. It has an elegiac quality that somehow translated into slowing me down. It was wonderful -- I felt like I got to live in that time and place, and let me tell you: 1960 in London and Southern France wasn't a bad place to spend a few days.


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