2 May 2012
Book Review: The Love Letter by Fiona Walker
When Allegra North parted from first love Francis after a decade together, she poured all her regret into a letter. He didn't reply. A year later, her job brings her back to the beautiful Devon coast where romance first blossomed and she hopes that they can start a new chapter.
As summer storms circle, the exes juggle rebellious parents, vengeful family members and a very reluctant celebrity author who holds the key to everybody's future . . .
It's been a good few years since I have managed to pick up a Fiona Walker novel, having devoured several of them when I first began reading chick lit a good few years ago now. When I was sent a copy of Fiona's latest book The Love Letter for reviewing as part of her new blog tour, I was curious to once again try another of Fiona's books and see how good it was. I was surprised by how big a book it was, at over 650 pages it isn't a short read, and with a fairly small type as well, it did take me quite a while to read it. Even though I did enjoy parts of it, I felt it was far too long, there were too many characters and too much going on all at the same time, and I found myself having to force myself to pick up the book to read it sometimes, as it felt I was plodding along all too slowly and I was waiting for something a bit exciting to happen! Luckily it picked up towards the end but was it a case of too little, too late?
Allegra North was madly in love with her childhood sweetheart Francis, but after a few bad decisions, the pair parted under bad circumstances and Allegra wrote him a letter, a love letter if you will. When her job at a London literary agency brings her back to Devon and into the Farcombe household once more, how will she find it being submerged back into Francis' life once more? And exactly what effect is the mysterious successful author Gordon Lapis going to have on Allegra and her relationship with Francis and his family? Is she going to be able to pull off trying to recreate a friendship with Francis as well as fulfilling her work commitments to reveal author Lapis at the Farcombe's literary festival?
Straight away, I had a feeling I would struggle to get along with this book, although I can't really put my finger on why. Quite a few characters are all introduced together, and I found it a little bit confusing to keep up with who was who until it was all solidified in my head a little bit. There's Allegra's family, her friends, her boss Conrad at the agency, and Francis and co who live at Farcombe, as well as author Gordon Lapis and his PA. That's quite a big cast list, and for a while, the Farcombe's especially started to blend into each other and I had to keep real tabs on who was who, who was with who and what exactly was going on. The only people I didn't confuse were Allegra, Gordon, Jago and Francis! Once they were in my mind, it was okay but it took quite a bit of the book for me to get to that state.
The characters were well written enough, but I have to confess to not warming to Allegra, or Legs as she is annoyingly referred to throughout the book. I found her to be a bit too annoying for me, always flying about doing something or other and not able to tell people, Francis in particular, her true feelings. I wanted to shout at her to grow up a bit and just be happy and do what she had to do to get there, regardless of who it may hurt in the process. I also really disliked Francis, he seemed like such a slimy character, some in it to only get what he could out of a situation and not a genuine person at all. My favourite by far was Jago Byrne, a character who appears halfway through and throws the whole scenario up in the air, but he was a breath of fresh air, and I loved him. I wish more of them had been like Jago to tell the truth!
As I mentioned, the book is over 650 pages long, and if I am honest, it really did feel like it. It dragged in places, and it seemed like some of the narrative was just there to bulk it up a bit and I felt myself skim reading these parts, waiting for it to get back to the action as it were. I found the final 1/3 of the book to really good, it picked up pace and got exciting, and I found myself really getting into it, but I just wish it had come sooner because this part really was good. Overall, I felt The Love Letter was a good read, but it suffered with being too long, with narrative that went on way too much and could have done with losing at least 100 pages from it, and getting to the last part far quicker! Yes, Walker's writing is good and she creates a large cast of characters with ease, some of them better than others, but for me the good bits were lost too much in the fact I struggled to motivate myself to read it every time I picked it up, and the confusion over the many characters in the book. It's a good read, but you have to have time and patience to follow it through to the end!
You can buy The Love Letter as a paperback or an eBook now.