Book Review: Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

Although this is my first novel by Rachel Hore, she is the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets. Described as a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years and set in Italy and in Norfolk, I was really curious to discover this story, even more when I saw the beautiful proof that landed on my doorstep.

Title: Last Letter Home 
Author: Rachel Hore
Published: March 22nd by Simon & Schuster

Blurb: On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Franklin, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain…

Review: I do love a dual time story, and even more if it involves long lost love letters, so I was really looking forward to reading this story. It definitely started very well, with Briony going on holiday to Italy with some friends and discovering an abandoned villa, filled with war-time secrets. It picked my curiosity from the first few chapters and I found the war timeline fascinated. 

I must say though that I was not as enthusiastic about the present timeline. Briony was a character difficult to get to know, she was reserved and she became a shadow when she was with her exuberant best friend. However, as the story progressed, Briony did start to become more and more confident and I enjoyed seeing her character develop. But I as I said, I preferred the war-time scenes a lot more.

The past time-line focused in several characters, with Sarah and her family as the main ones. It was so much fun to read about her and her blossoming friendship with Paul, but also sad to see what repercussions it had in that time, as he was German. I also found it really interesting to read about everything he had to go through just because of his origin and I ended up really caring for these two. 

The story had a few surprises in store for us that made this read, even if a bit slow, intriguing. And both storylines were really well intertwined, with unexpected links. 

All in all, Last Letter Home is a very well-crafter dual time story and the setting in Italy during WWII is really interesting. Definitely recommended for fans of Historical Fiction. 

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.

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