Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).
So this week I’m revisiting Letters to My Husband – first reviewed in April 2015.
Dear Mike, I can’t believe that it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You promised.
Elizabeth knows that her husband is kind and good and that he loves her unconditionally. She knows she hasn’t been herself lately but that, even so, they are happy. But Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when Mike dies in a tragic drowning accident. Suddenly everything Elizabeth knows about her husband is thrown into doubt. Why would he sacrifice his own life, knowing he’d never see his wife again? And what exactly was he doing at the lake that night?Elizabeth knows that writing to Mike won’t bring him back, but she needs to talk to him now more than ever . . .
How much can you ever know about the people you love?
Despite the melancholy subject of this book, I loved it and if this is a debut novel then it bodes well for future titles.
The book opens with Elizabeth’s first letter to her husband Mike, after she’s been told he’s been drowned in a tragic accident. While out walking the dog, he saves a young woman Kate Micklethwaite from drowning but somehow loses his own life.
It is not clear what happened and Kate can’t remember, so Elizabeth doesn’t even have the comfort of knowing how/why he drowned. As police officer, Mike had previously been involved in a Fire rescue, this incident consolidates his standing as a local hero. I don’t intend revealing any more of the plot as you really need to discover it for yourself to feel the full impact.
The book develops by alternating chapters of Now, Then and latterly Between as facts begin to emerge. Consequently we get a full picture of how Elizabeth and Mike met and married along with the ups and downs of their relationship. It also fleshes out the other characters and their lives, particularly Kate who plays an increasingly pivotal role in the way the book develops.
The book presents a heartbreaking portrait of Elizabeth as she struggles to come to terms with Mike’s death. It is a study in grief in all its facets and how it affects each person differently and how they develop strategies to cope. It is of course not just Elizabeth, but also Mike’s mother, his best friends and Elizabeth’s sister Mel. So as well as a book about grief, it’s a book about friendships and relationships. It’s a book about people perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others
As the story progresses it is clear that many of those perceptions may be shattered as there are unacknowledged tensions and secrets that will eventually surface. It is those hints and suspicions that keep you reading to the end, as well as the heartbreaking letters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and happily give it 5 stars which is not something I do regularly.