Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright

Title:  The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright
Author:  Beth Miller
Publication Information:  Bookouture. 2020. 338 pages.
ISBN:  178681742X / 978-1786817426

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The shop labels were still on the rucksack."

Favorite Quote:  "There are things I want to do before I'm too old, and they are things you want to do."

Mrs. Bright is a woman of a certain age and at a certain point in life. She has been married for a long time. Her daughter is grown and out of the house. She works in her husband's business, managing one of the stationery stores. She is still in touch with two friends from childhood. She still writes letters to her friend in Australia. So, what's the problem?

The friend is not writing back even though for years, they have written each month like clockwork. Her daughter has moved out, but is she truly independent. Her marriage is comfortable, but is that enough? Nothing is quite wrong, but then again, nothing is quite right.

Kay Bright takes a drastic step. She leaves her husband. No warning. No conversation. She decides that it is time for her to do all the things that she once dreamt of doing. She wants to go to Australia to see why her friend is not writing back. She wants to fulfill her dream of going to Venice. She wants to pursue the love for photography that she once had. She wants to do things.

Many books have been written in recent years about individuals at certain junctures of life deciding a change in needed. This is Your Life, Harriet Chance. Britt-Marie Was Here. Eleanor Oliphat is Completely Fine. Clock Dance. The True Story of Arthur Truluv. The Lost Letters of William Woolf is about both a character of a certain age and about letter writing. However, in this book the letter writing seems more a literary technique than an integral part of the story.

My reaction to these books has varied depending on the development of the main characters and depending on the authentic feeling of the emotions and relationships. This book deals with many serious, emotional issues:  terminal illness, infidelity, the end of a decades long marriage, and a longing for the road not taken.

The book is a quick and easy read, but it seems to stay at the surface of all the emotions and relationships. A terminal illness becomes a footnote in these story. The end of a marriage leads very quickly to rebound encounters. The revelation of a years old secret is a nonissue. I keep waiting for more.

The story also becomes to some extent about Kay's daughter. I suppose the common theme could be women trying to find their place in life, but unfortunately, it does not quite work. The shift between the individual lives of mother and daughter and then also their relationship with each other scatters the focus of the story. Add to that the sexual innuendo and actual sexual scenes (including a threesome!) in the story of both the mother and the daughter create a jarring note in the story. Sadly, Kay Bright herself comes across as a self-centered character. Not having an sympathetic main character is the final challenge that keeps me from engaging with the story. I don't necessarily want to follow along on her journey to discover herself.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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