Letters to the Lost

Written by Iona Grey
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

This English love story intertwines the lives of Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski in World War II, and Jess Moran and Will Holt in present-day London. Their paths cross when Jess comes upon a letter that links her, and later Will, with Stella’s and Dan’s history, through a box of old love letters. The complex plot weaves between 1940s England and the present, as Dan, in his nineties and dying in America, struggles to reconnect with the long-lost Stella.

All four have serious problems standing in the way of their happiness. During the war, bomber pilot Dan faces death with every mission. Stella loves him, but is trapped in an unfortunate marriage. In the present time, Jess is homeless and fleeing from an abusive boyfriend. Will is the unsuccessful son in a posh, upwardly mobile family.

Dan is a stereotype, but at least his heroic character is positive and pleasant. Stella, Will, and Jess are so unhappy and ineffective that the reader might want to give up on them. This would be a mistake. The first fifty pages of this book are relentlessly downbeat. Things don’t get much better as Stella and Dan struggle with a forbidden love in wartime Britain, Jess ends up in the hospital, and Will sinks into clinical depression. Still, the modern-day duo try desperately to find Stella and put her in touch with Dan before it is too late.

The story picks up and flies toward happiness in the last hundred pages, throwing in a couple of jaw-dropping, delightful plot twists. The unexpected, luminous ending is worth every word of dreariness the reader must endure to get there. Get a box of tissues and enjoy this book.