EXCERPT: The photo was a little crumpled around the edges, but – please excuse my lack of modesty – there was no denying the quality. It was a tight headshot in black and white of three pretty young women: Rose on the left, smiling and looking sideways at Bear next to her; me on Bear’s right, looking simultaneously pleased and harassed. Setting up the camera timer and making sure everyone stayed in the right place was a bit stressful. With film, you couldn’t keep trying again and again until you got it right. You had to get everything in place, then hold your breath and hope.
The photo was from the one visit to Australia that Rose and I took together, during our gap year, when we were still in our teens. When everything in life was there to be looked forward to, and it was too early for us to have made any mistakes. Before I met Richard, or David; before I got pregnant and crashed out of my degree. I looked again at our unlined, hopeful faces. So beautiful, so young.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.
For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.
Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.
And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…
MY THOUGHTS: This was an enjoyable read. I laughed, and I shed a few tears. And I remembered a similar exit from my first marriage to my ‘practice husband’ as I now affectionately call him. So yes, this read brought back memories, some good, some bad, but the thing that struck me most was how well Beth Miller has captured the emotions, how she has transferred them onto paper without, at any point, making them seem trite or hackneyed. She has written with flair and humour, unafraid to dissect a marriage, to examine the relationships between a mother and daughter, between lifelong friends.
She had me wondering, at times, if Kay really knew what she was doing, what she ultimately wanted, if she had really thought this through.
Ultimately this is a story about love, about friendship, about loss, and about not losing sight of the things that matter to you. It is beautifully written; sad, funny and inspiring.
This is the second book I have read by this author, and I am developing a real liking for her work.
Some of my favourite lines from The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright:
‘You go through life, you make choices they lead to other choices, and before you know it, you’re in a place you wouldn’t have started from.’
‘I enjoy speaking English very much, but sometimes it is too English. Italian is the language of romance.’
THE AUTHOR: have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.
I’ve published three novels, with one more about to be born, in January 2020. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.
Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.
Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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