Reviewed by Angela Marie
In Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry the reader is quickly immersed into the perfect lives of a perfect twenty-something couple, Jemma and Braxton Spencer. Jemma is an interior designer rapidly accruing an impressive clientele, whilst Braxton is an up-and-coming architect on the verge of landing a major client. They are beautiful, their home is beautiful and their love is beautiful and pure.
The number nineteen remains a constant coincidence in their lives. It is both their lucky and unlucky number. It was the date of their first meeting. It was also the number of days after their wedding that tragedy struck in the form of a motor accident on a rainy morning. True, Jemma survives, although is badly injured. What is stolen from her are her recollections of who she is, who her family are, her former life and most importantly for this novel, who the love of her life is.
And so begins the succession of letters, penned by Braxton and nineteen in total, to paint a picture of her past and prick her memory.
This novel is heavily weighted to the emotional. To the hand-wringing despair, to the yearning for closeness, to the need to feel whole. This is a difficult device to sustain. This reviewer yearned for greater complexity. Perhaps a little less perfection. Perhaps a peep into the minds of the supporting characters? A voice that resonated male. A named place, other than beachside, to develop context. Was this to deliberately increase the universality of appeal? Smatterings of pop culture framed this as a contemporary novel and were welcomed.
Nineteen Letters is a reminder that, as readers, we are not all drawn to the same genre. Some of us prefer intricate and detailed visual descriptions, or the sensory overload of texture and smell. Some of us prefer suspense and a twisting plot, lathered in politics, history or intrigue. We may wish to pause and consider the unfolding events and reroute our conjectures, tally the clues and weigh the possible outcomes. If so, then Nineteen Letters may not be for you.
Conversely, if you wish to melt your sceptical heart with an at times warm, at times tragic, love story, then put on your slippers, reach for your cocoa, and snuggle up with Nineteen Letters. This is a novel for those who enjoy a hopelessly romantic journey imbedded with the machinations of fate and the intertwining of souls. At the conclusion Braxton offers up his philosophy to us. “Love with your entire heart while you have the chance, because life is far too precious to waste on any uncertainty.”
This is a simple love story, romantic fiction strewn with reminiscence, regret and hope. Will all be restored or do new horizons emerge?
Jodi Perry is an Australian writer who has previously published under the name of J.L. Perry. Her last four ebooks were number one bestsellers. She travels yearly to the U.S. and to the U.K. to meet her fans. Nineteen Letters is the first novel she has written as Jodi Perry.
by Jodi Perry
ISBN 978 0 7336 3589 2