The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller
Publishing Date: 9th January 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 327
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.
For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.
Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.
And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…
An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.
Kay Bright has been married for 29 years. She’s in her early 50s, has two children and is working together with her husband in their family business.
Kay Bright is unhappy.
When her best friend Ursula (called Bear – no idea why, to be honest) moved to Australia 30 years ago, they both promised to write to each other, at least once a month. And they kept their word. However, now, Kay hasn’t heard from Bear for three months in a row and she’s getting worried. She doesn’t want to call – they said that they’re going to use a telephone only when it’s a matter of life and death, so she decides to head to Australia. Which means that she’s going to leave her stagnant life, together with husband, behind. She can’t put into words reasons for her need to leave, but she knows that she can’t live like this any longer, and so she decides to be egoistic this once, and goes. Will she find happiness? Will she find out what’s happening with Ursula? Will her closest ones accept her decisions?
Even though the story is told through mostly Kay and Stella’s points of view, we get to know the other characters as well and we get to see all the different reactions to Kay’s decision to leave her husband of almost thirty years. I liked Kay – she has eventually found the courage to be herself, to start doing things she has always wanted to do but never had a chance to do. Those both subplots, even though revolving around two different women, were actually about the same thing – finding happiness, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives – and telling them in this way added a lot of depth, I think, the different perspectives of two different generations were absorbing and interesting. However, Stella’s story, or rather her character’s arc, was not my favourite one, not sure why. I know, she was a young person, discovering herself, and there were truly great moments in her subplot, but she as a person, as a character, was simply not clicking with me. Maybe I felt like this towards Stella because, well, she was an adult, right, yet she behaved around her mother like a little girl, not accepting that Kay is allowed to make up her own decisions, even if they seem to be egoistic. Kay has sacrificed everything for her family, and it’s not a wonder that eventually she wanted something back – she wanted her happiness and the feeling of independence back. And Stella didn’t want to give it to her mother, making her feel guilty. And I didn’t like it. Though, of course, her narration has added a breath of fresh air, another perspective to Kay’s story.
There is also, of course, the worry and mystery around Bear, though I relatively quickly guessed what it is, and to be absolutely honest I was not so found of Bear, I didn’t feel I know her well enough to root for her, and while I felt sorry for her it didn’t make a huge impact on me.
In the end, everything was perfectly wrapped up, maybe a bit too tidy? Also, the emotions and feelings, while present on almost every single page and handled with care, were not as deeply captured as I’d like them, they were a bit too two – dimensional. And there were a few moments that felt too forced, not so smooth compared to the rest of the story, or simply things that I could really live without them being put in this book.
This book is really well written, can I say that it’s, I don’t know, so easily readable? It’s chatty, and the pace is just right, flowing well and making it a quick read. The writing style is so vivid, bringing the characters to life, but also the different settings simply came alive through the author’s words.
But altogether, I haven’t expected “The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright” to be so captivating and moving. I really liked the way it was written, interlacing two perspectives, two points of view, giving us a wider view at the same situations and events. It was filled with dry and clever humour and spot – on observations. It dealt with many more topics, going deeper than I expected, which was a rather nice surprise, as it was well worked and coherent. It was a lovely, heart – warming tale about friendship, families, starting anew, second chances, showing us it’s never too late to be brave. Recommended!