To day I’m delighted to host the blog tour for Letters From The Past by the Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James.
A sweeping and compelling story of family, love and betrayal set in a quintessential Suffolk village, from Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James.
It’s the autumn of 1962 in the idyllic Suffolk village of Melstead St Mary. Evelyn Devereux’s husband Kit is planning their 20th wedding anniversary party. But as they prepare to celebrate, Evelyn receives an anonymous letter that threatens to unravel the secrets she’s kept hidden for many years – secrets that reach back to the war and her days at Bletchley Park.
Evelyn’s sister-in-law, Hope, has brought joy to countless children with her bestselling books, but despite having a loving husband and caring family, happiness has never come easily to her. Then in an instant her fragile world is turned upside down when she too receives an anonymous letter.
Across the village, up in Melstead Hall, Julia Devereux has married into a life beyond anything she could have dreamt of, not realising until it’s too late that it comes with a heavy price.
Meanwhile, in the sun-baked desert of Palm Springs, Romulo Devereux-Temple, crime-writer and former ATA pilot, is homesick for her beloved Island House, where she’s saved the day more times than she can count. On her return she finds that along with Evelyn, Hope and Julia, she’s confronted with a letter threatening to reveal secrets from the past. Once again Romily is challenged to save the day and hold the family together. Can she do it? And maybe seize some happiness for herself at the same time?
Erica James has written 22 novels! And until now I haven’t read any – I’m so glad I finally have. It was such a joy to immerse myself in this epic story of family, secrets, love and deceit.
The synopsis above gives you a pretty good idea of the basic storyline but there are a whole host of characters (some wonderful and others who are distinctly beastly). At first, picking it up for brief moments I found it a little confusing to remember who was who. Then I stopped, grabbed myself a cuppa and sunk down in a cosy chair for an undisturbed hour to read. Once in I found it very hard to leave and I became ever anxious to return to the story.
This is a dual-time novel. 1962 and then back to various points during the Second World War, as the past always has a habit of influencing the present. In 1962, living under the shadow of the Cold War, four women discover that for them, an enemy lies closer to home. Someone is sending vile, poison pen letters. We don’t know who is behind them but they seem only intent on causing hurt and pain, threatening to upset many lives along the way.
The letters add an intriguing ingredient to the plot and allows Erica to draw you in, gradually introducing you to each character and the secrets that are threaten to finally be revealed. Erica is obviously an observer of human nature. She writes people very well and taps into their idiosyncrasies in a way that reminded me a little of Agatha Christie (but without the murder!). Many of these people have suffered in some way either from war or harm from supposed ‘loved ones’. I found myself experiencing a myriad of emotions throughout the story but ultimately it left me feeling rather uplifted.
I very much enjoyed the historical content throughout the novel. The coming together of older and younger generations during what would be the beginning of the ‘swinging sixties’ and the return to more asters days of the War – the parts touching on Bletchley Park were especially interesting.
In a nutshell this is a wonderful escapist read, these days are perfect for historical fiction of any kind – allowing us to escape the current troubles in our world and reminding us that darks times have come and gone before. Family, love, courage and kindness are the things that carry us through. Oh, and perhaps a dash of honesty too.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the lovely people at Orion books for sending me a proof copy. It’s always wonderful to discover a new author and I’m especially pleased that Erica has such an impressive backlist to dive into.
About the author
Erica James is the number one international bestselling author of twenty-two novels, including the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers Summer at the Lake, The Dandelion Years and Song of the Skylark. She has sold over five million books worldwide and her work has been translated into thirteen languages.
Erica won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her novel Gardens of Delight, set in beautiful Lake Como, Italy, which has become a second home to her. Her authentic characters are thanks to her fondness for striking up conservations with complete strangers.