Friday 5 April 2024

The Lost Letters of Evelyn Wright by Clare Swatman #TheLostLettersofEvelynWright @clareswatman @BoldwoodBooks #BookReview


Starting over can be hard to do…

So when mum of two Beth moves out of her beloved marital home and into an unloved and unkempt cottage, she can’t help but feel demoralised. Faced with months of DIY and dust, her children Jacob and Olivia aren’t impressed either. But when Beth finds a box of letters while she’s clearing out the children’s room, things start to look up.

The correspondence is decades old, between agony aunt Evelyn and those in need of solace. Intrigued as to why the letters have been kept safe all these years, Beth can’t resist reading them, and as the wisdom and kindness of Evelyn falls off the pages, so Beth starts to feel she has a friend and champion in this woman she has never met.

Good advice doesn’t age, and as life starts to look brighter, Beth begins to wonder if she could track down Evelyn and thank her for her help. But as Beth uncovers more about Evelyn’s story, it becomes clear that everything is not as it seems. And now Beth is determined to bring peace to Evelyn as she has to her.

A spell-binding, heart-warming story of friendship, love and being brave enough to be yourself.

The Lost Letters of Evelyn Wright by Clare Swatman was published on 15 February 2024 by Boldwood Books. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

I read this one whilst on holiday in Maderia and I really enjoyed the escape into Beth's world. I've read most of Clare Swatman's novels and am a fan of her style and characters, this one wasn't as heart-breaking as some of her earlier books, but it's a great read nevertheless. 

Beth is a great character. She's recently divorced after her husband cheated on her, she's a teacher and has just bought a run-down cottage. The house was the only thing that she could afford, Rob and his new partner are happily living in Beth's former home; the one that she spent so much time and effort on. Their two children, Jacob and Olivia need a comfortable place when they are with Beth, they are so young, but they are not impressed by the state of the cottage. Beth feels bitter and hard done by, and to be honest, I can't blame her. 

Faced with what seems like years of work ahead, Beth begins to do her best to renovate the cottage. It's tiring, expensive work and she really isn't enjoying it at all. When she discovers a box of old letters, she is intrigued. These turn out to be letters sent by readers of a magazine to an Agony Aunt known as Evelyn. The letters are old, and some of the problems, and a great deal of the advice given would be frowned upon today, but Beth is captivated by them. She can relate some of them to her own life, and in a sudden burst of inspiration, she decides that she too can be an Agony Aunt, creating an online blog and waiting for the problems to roll in.

And they do! Beth is overwhelmed by how popular her little blog becomes, she is also really interested to find out more about Evelyn Wright. What happened to her? Where is she now? 

What I liked most about Beth was her determination, and also her flaws. She's a complex woman, who has experienced many disappointments in life, yet those don't stop her from making her own mistakes. Let's say that she hasn't always learned from her past!  

Beth finds friendship in her new village, and a spark of romance too. The supporting cast of characters are expertly created, the depiction of new friendship in later years is excellent and that hint of romance is tenderly and cleverly handled. We may not approve, but we are certainly hooked. 

The mystery of Evelyn Wright becomes something of a side story to Beth's own life, and when all is revealed it is moving and totally fitting of the time the Evelyn lived in. The addition of this mystery adds a depth to the story, but at times also mirrors Beth's own issues. 

A story to savour, with characters who are realistic, flawed yet loveable. Recommended. 

Clare Swatman is the author of eight women's fiction novels. Her latest, The Lost Letters of Evelyn Wright, is an uplifting story about friendship, love and being brave enough to be yourself. Before writing books, Clare spent 20 years writing for women's magazines in the UK.

Clare lives in Hertfordshire in the UK with her husband and two boys. Even the cat is male, which means she's destined to be outnumbered forever. 

You can find out more about her books at www. clareswatmanauthor. com, or follow her on Facebook at Clare Swatman Author, Insta @clareswatmanauthor, and X, where she's @clareswatman

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