“Please do not be a ghost.”Elias letter (p. 78)
A proper romance and a modern mystery told through text messages, emails, letters, a novel. I try not to do spoilers in book reviews, but for this one, I can’t seem to help it since I didn’t give the 5/5 star-rating I initially wanted to do. It was a joy to read, and the suspense of the romantic mystery kept me reading, but I found myself disappointed by the rather inconclusive ending.
Josie De Clare has a lot on her plate after her dad’s passing: she has inherited a historical house in England and has the responsibility of fixing it up. However, upon doing so, she comes across a stack of 200-year-old letters which are all addressed to a Josephine De Clare from one of the house’s former residents, Elias. Determined to solve the mystery of this strange and impossible connection to her own identity, Josie enlists the help of her friends to help her research who exactly this Elias is and how it is possible that a man from 1820 knows a woman from the year 2020.
Concept – As a fan of time-travel, it was refreshing to read a romance with this theme that spans both the past and the recent present. And to be told through modern means of communication (texting and emails) was unique as well.
Writing – I normally am not a fan of reminiscent writing; it seems that most of the time the narrator gets lost in his or her own thoughts, but the language George uses in this memoir-style of storytelling gives us not too much or too little. When the characters are reminiscent, the language used is quite beautiful and sometimes witty.
“My novel keeps your memory close, Josephine. I hope you might read it one day. Whenever I sort through its chapters, I am reminded we are on the same page in different books, together in spirit despite our separate lives. I anticipate a day when our stories collide again.”Elias letter (pg. 208)
“…I did in fact practice my dance steps, and I considered fleeing the house. No party is complete without at least one escape attempt.”Elias letter (pg. 74)
“I have kept the facts a secret, for the truth is raw, and people prefer their truth seasoned, marinated, and cooked medium-well.”Elias letter (pg. 77)
“…Books are but reflections of us.”Elias letter (pg. 117)
“…One’s belief cannot be allowed to suffocate under the tyranny of small minds, for hope itself does not hinge on the faith of the masses, rather the singular soul.”Elias letter (pg. 165)
Characters – George gave each main character had a voice all their own and this diversity made the story a joy to read.
Discussion Questions – (The only part of the ending I was a fan of) I like it when books—usually ones with abrupt endings like this one—list some questions for further thought and discussion after the story ends. These are nice to ask one another in group book discussions or for personal reflection.
Ending (with spoiler)
“After everything we have endured, I must cling to the belief that our stories will collide in the end.”Elias letter (pg. 119)
Spoiler: they don’t. The book ends with a conclusion that another character makes up some unanswered questions on my part that include: Where is the rest of the manuscript? Which version of the first meeting between Elias and Josephine was correct? And, of course, What the heck was the connection between Elias and the modern-day Josie? Was there even a connection?
My initial excitement over the mystery of this story came to an abrupt halt and I find myself rather disappointed that the mystery between Elias and Josie’s connection was never really resolved. It seems like it was building up to this amazing conclusion and then it ends with: (spoiler) oh, they both just end up with different people so forget everything you just read… I tend to like books with at least a little bit of closure at the end and though I liked the writing in this novel, the overall story left me with a “what?” feeling.