I’m excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Rachel Hore’s latest novel, Last Letter Home. Not only am I sharing my thoughts with you today but you have the chance of reading chapter three.
Here’s more about Last Letter Home:
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 4182.0 KB
Print Length: 560 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (22 Mar. 2018)
Available to purchase now in digital and hardcover format with the paperback publishing in August.
From the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets, comes a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years, set in Italy and in Norfolk.
On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.
In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.
When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain …
I always enjoy a dual timeline, often finding myself invested more in one timeline than the other. In Last Letter Home I enjoyed both but Sarah and Paul’s story drew me in emotionally. Paul keeps engaging with life despite the trauma we see him go through. After the war I so wanted things to work out for him. Despite Sarah’s circumstances she has a strength and determination with a zest for life … and I wanted to find out how her story ended. I wanted to read that elusive last letter home!
Briony is vulnerable and the character who I felt grew the most but she just didn’t get under my skin in the same way that Sarah and Paul did. Possibly because of the harrowing scenes from the war. I certainly felt the past had more to lose and more to fight for. A different way of life when you have to fight to survive, whether that’s with the people around you or against others on the battlefield.
Both have difficult love lives that are just not easy, both going against societal rules – but for very different reasons. Which of course can lead to secrecy and hiding the truth (not only from others but from yourself too).
With betrayal, lies and deceit in both timelines there’s plenty of conflict to raise pulse rates. At times I was indignant at what was going on. There’s a couple of characters whose motives I wasn’t sure about … who or what were they protecting? What would they gain? I thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue surrounding Harry Andrews, trying to work it out a couple of times but for the majority of time, just letting myself get swept away by the story itself.
It was easy to step into both timelines in Last Letter Home and become a part of the story. A testament to the skills of a great storyteller 🙂
One for your reading lists.
Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at UEA. She is married to writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons.
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