Thursday, June 12, 2014

That Part Was True

I don't know if anyone has missed that I am not blogging about the books I read this year. I am still reading, though my monthly average is down from eleven to seven, I just gave up posting about my reads - even though there have been several FIVES since January 1.

That Part Was True is Deborah McKinlay's second novel. It isn't a five on my rating scale, but it comes close. I either love or hate books that end without a resolution - that leave you wondering what happens. In this case, I loved the ending. There was just enough of a clue that you can imagine your own satisfying ending, but you don't get the clue until the last line of the book.

I am particularly fond of epistolary novels and while I don't think this book is quite as good as my all-time favourite, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it is a very satisfying read. It also helps that the characters are middle aged and the woman is English. (Love my English novels.)

It all begins when Eve sends a letter to an American author complimenting him on a scene in one of his books. The scene involved the eating of a peach and when the author, Jackson, replied, a correspondence about their mutual love of  food and cooking ensued.

In alternating chapters we learn more about Eve's life in England and Jackson's in the United States. As their first notes increase into longer letters and they learn more about one another's lives, the correspondence takes on more meaning for them. There is a comfortable anonymity which allows them to be more open than they can with the people in their daily lives.

McKinlay does a marvelous job of describing both sides of the pond as well as taking us into the lives of not only her main characters but all their friends and family. There are funny moments, poignant scenes of loss, even some good sounding recipes thrown in.

As an incurable romantic and a lover of words, I have always been attuned to the idea of getting to really know another through letter writing. It has always seemed like an excellent way of letting someone know your true self. The only problem used to be the interminable wait for the daily post. I wonder how much the internet and texting have changed the frisson of receiving a letter?

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