The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

Book: The Letter

Author: Kathryn Hughes, 2015

From the blurb “The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman's devastation leads to the other's salvation.

Each time I wanted to chastise Tina, the author gave me enough reason to forgive her, open another page to read more, find out how much more she would take before rescuing herself.

I am an avid reader, always out to find the next book with a message to the world. I chose to read The Letter based on it’s blurb and the free sample that Amazon allows online. I was captivated, it was the first book I ever bought a book direct from my Kindle. In the past I have had to login to my account to click purchase.

Why did I want to read the book so badly?

The author raised the “why” question in my mind with the first sentence of the book, “This time she was going to die, of that she was certain.” and every chapter and section of the book kept the why question alive.

  1. Why does Tina recognize every flow in the man but immediately generates an excuse for him?

Such was a time I wanted to put the book down and shake Tina. Instead, I ended up reflecting on my life and coming up with the many times I have generated excuses for someone who wronged me.

Tina lived in fear, not the fear of what she knew would happen to her in the form of frequent beatings or even death, but her fear of doing something different, something new. In real life what holds us back from taking the next best step?

2. As human beings, how often do we miss opportunities because we don’t want to take a risk, our fear of the unknown?

3. There is a persisting question on mothers and sons, wives and husbands. “What man doesn’t cuff his wife once in a while? You must have done something bad to get him so riled. He always did have a short fuse, you know that as well as anyone. You should know how to handle him by now.” - Mother to daughter-in-law.

Why can a mother not turn against her son even when she’s fully aware that her daughter-in-law is right, needs protection?

Later in the book, a mother says to her own daughter, “I’m sorry it has to be like this, but you understand, don’t you? Your father has a standing in this community and the shame of having a daughter who—’”

4. What are the chances that too much concern of women on the lives of men is the reason some men have no space, time to reflect and correct their way of life?

5. Have you ever witnessed situations in real life when women turn a man’s wrong into a fight amongst themselves, as women? What were your thoughts then, and now?

6. How many times have we accepted flowers, roses, false words in lieu of a proper apology? Being served a meal or a clean house in place of asking for an explanation on what the “other” did wrong to us?

7. Is there a time-period in letting go off the past to enjoy the present? How often do we let an “old” wrong from one man/person crowd our decision making on our future relationships?

I like the way the author balances issues in the book - has Graham, Donald, Jackie and William to show that not all men are bad, it is about individuals – see them, run to one of the two directions.

What next?

I found The Letter to be a fantastic read, a page turner. I highly recommend the book to youth and parents. To institutions, including the family that perpetuate the suffering of women, and to groups working on gender issues.

What related books would you recommend for me to read next?

Eileen Omosa.Comment