The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2018 by Headline Review
About the Book:
1956: When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret's, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will, and Ivy will never leave.
Present day: Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret's. Before it is too late. Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret's set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever.

The chapters in this story alternate between 1956, telling Ivy's story and 2017, following Sam's research for an article. While this is a story about family bonds, loss and perseverance, it is also an eye-opening story about the abuse of power and a society whose judgement is more important than the welfare of its children. With issues like those, it's not surprising that this book has emotional scenes.

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
I  totally lost myself in this incredible, heart-wrenching and vividly visual story about a mother-and-baby home in 1950s Sussex, and a modern-day journalist touched so much by The Girl in the Letter that she made it her mission to uncover the truth. The letters themselves had me in tears at points; willing the characters on and feeling so connected to the relationships. Emily Gunnis is obviously a meticulous researcher. I also enjoyed that this wasn't your usual "unwed mothers in the Catholic laundry" story. The author really revved it up a notch by adding a murderous twist to this exceptional story line. Nowhere in any blurb or description of the book did I hear about that, so I was pleasantly surprised.

This is an incredible story that's very beautifully written. The characters were so real and all I wanted was to embrace them, steal them away from their separate horrors. Brava, Ms. Gunnis, I set my life aside to read your book and was completely mesmerized by the depth of your characters and the beauty they still managed to somehow weave through their tragic lives.

Overall, this is a wonderful read that confronts a horrible time in history, head-on.


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