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Review : The Book of Last Letters by Kerry Barrett

We’re delighted to be sharing Elena’s thoughts about The Book of Last Letters by Kerry Barrett.

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Book cover for The Book of Last Letters by Kerry Barrett.  A woman faces away with her hands behing her back holding a bundle tied in red ribbon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09Q89WKV1
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HQ Digital (30 Mar. 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

Inspired by an incredible true story, this is an unforgettable novel about love, loss and one impossible choice…

London, 1940
When nurse Elsie offers to send a reassuring letter to the family of a patient, she has an idea. She begins a book of last letters: messages to be sent on to wounded soldiers’ loved ones should the very worst come to pass, so that no one is left without a final goodbye.

But one message will change Elsie’s life forever. When a patient makes a devastating request, can Elsie find the strength to do the unthinkable?

London, present day
Stephanie has a lot of people she’d like to speak to: her estranged brother, to whom her last words were in anger; her nan, whose dementia means she is only occasionally lucid enough to talk.

When she discovers a book of wartime letters, Stephanie realises the importance of our final words – and uncovers the story of a secret love, a desperate choice, and the unimaginable courage of the woman behind it all…

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The Book of Last Letters Review

Elsie works as a nurse at a south London hospital during WW2 and is helping those who have been injured during bombings. Working alongside her best friend Nellie she comes face to face with people who are perilously close to dying and an idea comes to mind – she starts a book where they write letters to their loved ones – memories and messages. Elsie lost her brother and would’ve loved a message from him before he died so this book is important to her.

In the present day, Stevie works as a care assistant at Tall Trees residential home which is also where her Nan lives, suffering with dementia. Tall Trees used to be a hospital during WW2 and when she comes across a book with messages for loved ones written by patients, she teams up with historian Finn, trying to find out more about what happened to Elsie who compiled it.

This book is simply fantastic, full of all the elements I enjoy. Dual timeline, interesting characters and fascinating story inspired by true events.

The memory book is such a lovely idea and Elsie is caring and interesting. I love how much she likes to help people, a sentiment which is echoed by Stevie too with her job at the care home.

I am drawn to books about WW2 and this one didn’t disappoint with so much packed in. There is even room for a little romance!

The Book of Last Letters is such a well-written and beautifully crafted book that I just had to keep reading once I started.

I was sad when it ended and would love to see it on film, as I feel it would translate effectively.

Kerry Barrett was a bookworm from a very early age and did a degree in English Literature, then trained as a journalist, writing about everything from pub grub to EastEnders. Her first novel, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, took six years to finish and was mostly written in longhand on her commute to work, giving her a very good reason to buy beautiful notebooks. Kerry lives in London with her husband and two sons, and Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes is still her favourite novel.

Twitter @kerrybean73

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