Love, Hope by Juliet Ann Conlin
A novel in letters is in a very old tradition, but in this bright, often funny book other forms of communication are also used to establish it in the twenty-first century. Through emails, texts and handwritten letters Hope Sullivan communicates with her friends and family, and they try to contact her, as they all reveal their characters in this charming story of love and friendship. The narrative is unusual, as there are no passages of description, and the dialogue is all in the form of text and the longer forms of emails and letters. It is really lively and manages to convey an enjoyable plot and much more. Hope is a lovely character whose story runs throughout the novel; she has ambitions from the beginning of the book to become a professional musician with her best friend Janey. They both attend a strict music school with the support of their families. Not that they are always model students as they go through the normal ups and downs of being teenagers and pushing the boundaries. Everything seems set for a wonderful future when a tragedy occurs, and Hope must rethink her ambitions. The way that this book works out is so enjoyable that it is an easy read with its unusual format which runs so smoothly. I really enjoyed following the story of Hope, Janey and eventually Arnold, as they exchange their thoughts. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this memorable book.
The first letter in the book actually offers Hope her place at Fairclef Music Academy, followed by Janey’s introductory notes. Both girls are invited to the other’s houses, as their parents become good friends. They fall in and out of trouble, but always enjoy their music and look forward to touring the world with Hope playing her precious violin, while Janey specialises in the flute. A tragedy overtakes Hope’s family just at the moment that she is performing her first major solo, as she must change her plans. It is not easy, especially as her younger sister Autumn needs attention. Fortunately her friend Janey keeps in touch and her adventures keep going as she struggles with her job and running her home. She also keeps in contact with her lively and active grandparents in Australia who, through emails and other contacts, demonstrate a wide range of interests. Eventually Hope is asked to write letters to Arnold, an older man who lives in sheltered accommodation and is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife Marion. In the long form of letters they exchange histories, experiences and more, eventually achieving the sort of relationship where each tries to help the other follow their ambitions or at least make the most of each day. Such mutual honesty makes each letter worth reading, as the young woman admits to things such as being an awful cook, while Arnold remembers his long marriage with Marion. Meanwhile things are happening for Janey and the others, and Hope is in contact with them all. Not that any relationship is completely easy, and there are still a few tense moments to come.
This is a book which shows real insight into people’s lives and maintains a positive tone overall as several years are covered. I really enjoyed it immensely, and would recommend it as a lovely read.