Review: Letters to my Mother by Rebecca Heath

A TOUCHING STORY, AND BEAUTIFULLY TOLD

I have to say that I thought this book was wonderful. It is the gentle tale of two people who shouldn’t be together by the normal rules of morality and the times. Kate is a young, extremely bright college student who has never had much time for boys. David is a professor at the college she attends. Brilliant but somewhat aloof, he is trapped in a loveless marriage where nobody – not even his children – can see any worth in him.  But this is Seattle in the 1950s, and nineteen year olds don’t have affairs with married men in their late forties. Nobody would find that acceptable. And yet, these two find a rare love for each other.

As a reader, you cannot help but begin to wonder what is going to happen. How can this end well? It is difficult to say without adding spoilers. But somehow Rebecca Heath has managed to tell this story in such a way that the sadness and the happiness mingle to just give the reader a sense of satisfaction.

Each chapter begins with the brief extract of a letter from Kate to her mother – but of course, the letters don’t even touch the surface of what is really happening in Kate’s life. There is no way that Kate could tell her mother the truth, but somehow she manages to talk about her life without telling lies, whilst at the same time failing to mention the turbulent emotions she is experiencing.

I would say this is not a romantic novel. It’s a well-written true love story. For me there is a distinction. This book has none of the hallmarks of traditional romantic fiction, and doesn’t attempt to put a rosy glow on life and the lovers. It’s about real people, experiencing emotions that may not be right, but can’t be avoided. It is a book for people who have been in love themselves, who will recognise the emotions that shine through in the writing.

I haven’t broken this book into sections for this review – it didn’t lend itself to that. The pace is slow, but intentionally so. That is part of its charm.

5 Stars

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