Wednesday 25 September 2013

Book Review: Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran

Three women, united by love and kinship, struggle to conform to the social norms of the times in which they lived.

In 1931, Katherine Henderson leaves behind her small town in Kansas and the marriage proposal of a local boy to live on her own and work at the Sears & Roebuck glove counter in Chicago. There she meets Annie—a bold, outspoken feminist who challenges Katherine’s idea of who she thinks she is and what she thinks she wants in life.

In 1997, Katherine’s daughter, Joan, travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to clean out her estranged mother’s house. Hidden away in an old suitcase, she finds a wooden box containing trinkets and a packet of sealed letters to a person identified only by a first initial.

Joan reads the unsent letters and discovers a woman completely different from the aloof and unyielding mother of her youth–a woman who had loved deeply and lost that love to circumstances beyond her control. Now she just has to find the strength to use the healing power of empathy and forgiveness to live the life she’s always wanted to live.

For the Eclectic Reader Challenge I needed to read a LGBT book. Letters Never Sent grabbed my attention because I was intrigued to see how the author Sandra Moran would tell the story of two women falling in love during the 1930s; a time when society certainly wasn't accepting of lesbian relationships.

Letters Never Sent is an engaging and thought-provoking book for that very reason - it focuses on the social attitudes of the day and the many prejudices women faced. Moran did a wonderful job at highlighting just how tough women had it when they chose to lead a life separate from the norm. I found the character of Annie particularly inspiring because she stands up for herself and doesn't apologise for who she is.

The novel is actually the story of three women - Katherine, Annie and Joan - and the choices they have made, for better or worse. I liked the idea that our decisions can affect the rest of our lives and even the lives of our children. I also liked how Moran created flawed yet lovable characters; people I could relate to as I read, even though I've never been forced to make the hard decisions that they all did.

Moran writes convincingly and the setting in 1930s Chicago is particularly well described. There are a few twists and turns in the novel that kept me entertained throughout. I did find the ending to be fairly predictable, but by that stage I was invested enough in the story that it didn't bother me too much.

Letters Never Sent is an emotional, romantic story that deals with important issues and powerful themes of loss and injustice. It was very moving to read a book that reminded me just how far women have come in our fight for equality and freedom. I enjoyed reading this touching novel.


  1. Thoughtful review, I agree with your assessment. good book.

  2. Thanks for sharing your review for the Eclectic Reader challenge.
    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out