Holt Bookshop recently recommended a series of books by local author Sarah Mitchell, and asked me if I could get them, as they were having trouble sourcing them. They are published by Bookoutre, an online only division of Hachette, and so were only available in print on special order. I downloaded a copy of The Lost Letters, and enjoyed it. It’s a well written story, with a contemporary protagonist researching her family history, while the backstory, set in 1940s Norfolk, is related in parallel.
After some discussion with the publisher, I have been able to source a supply of print copies which are now in stock and available, with normal trade discounts where applicable. I’m sure readers will enjoy the writing, the local settings in Norwich and Wells, and the historical wartime references, which have been thoroughly researched. Add to that a little mystery and romance and we have a really good read.
The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell
In 1940, with the blitz underway and a real threat of Nazi invasion, the British government responded to offers from Commonwealth countries (or ‘the Empire’ as it was then) by arranging overseas evacuations for children. The Lost Letters explores how such an evacuation might have affected the families involved.
Martha, in Canada, discovers some papers after her father dies that lead her to Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk where he had booked a holiday. Flashback to 1939 and Sylvia from Wells, but living in Norwich, meets Connie from London on Wells beach, and a friendship develops, while their young children play happily together.
We follow Sylvia and Connie through their early wartime experiences while Martha tries to unravel the mystery of her father’s family history, of which he’s talked very little, having led her to believe he was an orphan.
There are particularly atmospheric episodes where Sylvia is coping with being bombed in Norwich, hiding under the stairs and then helping survivors. And emotions rise as families are forced to separate.
Following several twists in the story as Martha unravels the mystery and finds a possible romance, the author puts this complex story together very well, bringing it to a tidy, if unexpected, conclusion.