Letters to the End of Love
Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker is a debut novel due that revolves around three couples losing and finding love, told in a series of letters. A Russian couple in 1969 slowly comes to terms with losing each other to fatal illness, a young woman writes to her ex-husband in 2011, trying to understand how their marriage fell apart and in post war England, a retired doctor writes to his greatest love, a German artist he met in the ’30s.
Letters to the End of Love does not lack for intense descriptive prose. The world is vividly described, from the incredible moments to the simple banalities of modern life, people and places are given incredible depth and color. However I found that it was a little overdone in places and became tedious with characters making endless examinations and then contradictions on their day to day observations.
Letter writing, it seems, is fast becoming a lost art, so it is refreshing to read a novel in such a distinct style. This book is reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, where the back and forth letters slowly piece together the connections and histories between the characters. However, the writer is still developing her voice, and so for the first several chapters, the tone of each letter is remarkably identical, making it sometimes hard to distinguish the characters.
That being said, the correspondence between the Russian couple is touching, for even though they live in the same house, their need to leave a lasting record of their love and life is beautiful, expressing what they cannot say out loud. The Perth couple in 2011 are separated by distance, and despite their knowledge of Facebook, choose to write letters which is cute.
For a debut novel, Letters to the End of Love is a mostly enjoyable book and is available this week.