Love Letters – Book Review

Book: Love Letters
Author: Katie Fforde
Year: 2009

Here’s the thing about reading chick literature, it’s not going to coincide with reality in any way. It’s also not going to have a sorry ending. And yes, it’s going to need some amount of imagination on your part to enjoy it while it lasts.

Love Letters - Katie FfordeLove Letters is the second book I’ve read by Katie Fforde. The first being Recipe for Love. While I enjoyed Recipe for Love a lot, I don’t harbour the same feelings for Love Letters. Somehow, I felt this one was over-the-top and a little too off the ship. But then again, this could be a fairy tale for adults. The premise, if you will — Laura Horsely is a 26 year old girl who has been working in a bookshop which is on the brink of shutting down. At a book signing event of a famous current author, Laura meets the formidable agent Eleanora Huckleby who discovers Laura’s competent knowledge of contemporary literature. Impressed by Laura’s depth of knowledge and her critical eye of other people’s work, Eleanora persists that Laura organize a literary festival in conjunction with a musical festival that her niece, Fenella, is organizing in Somerby. A reluctant and shy Laura is nudged and coaxed by her friend Grant to come out of her shell (shall we say book shell) and go out and find herself a new job. As the main attraction of the festival, Laura finds is asked to bring out from hiding the reclusive writer Dermot Flynn who is an author par excellence but has not been seen in public eye for over a decade.

Laura goes off to Ireland accompanied by her new-found friend Monica to find Dermot Flynn. Thus starts the shedding of Laura’s old skin and donning a new one. The 26-year old virgin who has always worn blacks and whites and forever stayed in the corner of her book shop suddenly hurtles herself into a world she always shied away from. In Ireland, Laura lets down her hair and tracks down Dermot Flynn to persuade him to come for her literary festival in England. A drunk Laura approaches Dermot and presents her invitation only to be met with Dermot’s unusual condition. Laura’s teenage dreams come tumbling out of her heart and she finds herself in a position she could have never imagined as the demure book shop girl.

What follows is a hide and seek game by Laura and Dermot of each other, furious preparations of a combined literary and musical festival, and the understanding and synthesising of our protagonist Laura’s unacknowledged feelings.

What I find unable to swallow in this book is how a girl who once worshipped an author ends up in bed with him and then goes on to marry him. Somehow, this is incomprehensible to me. Alas, this is where the fairy tale bit comes in. The description of girl-bonding, scenes in Ireland, the Somerby estate (just like Recipe for Love), and the usual lover’s tiff and make up are all very well. In fact, commendable even.

Now that I have read two of Fforde’s novels, I can see the formulaic plot – a regular girl following her passions meets a powerful man she worshipped as a hero, she falls in love, the man does too, there is passion, a misunderstanding, and then the reconciliation and a happy ending. To add to this, we have the Somerby estate, the adorable couple Fen and Rupert and lots of beautiful English scenery. Not sure how one can go wrong with that.

However, what I liked about Laura was that she is, in all aspects, a regular girl. She has her insecurities, she needs her friends to egg her on, she has capabilities and willing to hone them, she has a final dream and  in spite of her fears she tries to achieve it. The vulnerabilities, hopes, dreams, and wishes are like any regular girl. And she’s not even the glam model, she dresses down too. Somehow, that makes me feel Fforde knows the audience she is catering to.

As for the name of the book, there is no clear indication as to why this book is called Love Letters because there were no letters at all. This book is not recommended if you’re reading Katie Fforde for the first time because it might test your faith a little too much. Read this as a second book, or even the fifth because it all comes down to how much you’re willing to believe.

But then again, isn’t that the case with everything?



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