Monday, March 16, 2009

Letters Between Us - Linda Rader Overman

Santa Barbara Herald
Friday July 7, 1989
Missing Mother Found Dead in Dumpster

That's the opening page of Letters Between Us. And although it reads like real life, it is a fascinating work of fiction.

Laura and Katherine were friends from grade eight through to the death of Katherine at age 39. They faithfully kept in touch over the years with letters. When Laura goes to the funeral, she is given a box of letters and photos to go through by Katherine's estranged husband. Laura asks her husband to send the box of letters she has saved to her. She holes up in a motel rereading and reliving not just Fields' life but her own.

The book is a mixture of Laura's reminiscences and correspondence between the women, with letters faithfully reproduced. Bolder type is used for Laura's correspondence and faded, tiny script for Katharine's. Although I believe this script mimics what Katharine's type and style of writing would be like, I found it a bit hard to read. It is interspersed with Laura's journal entries from 1989 and memories of their lives together.

Katharine's letters seem to allude to something dark, but not spoken of. She has struggled with mental health issues and both of her parents are alcoholic. It is only upon rereading and reflection that Laura sees the hidden hurt of Katharine's life, clues she missed the first time around. Laura also sees her own life replayed - she was a heavy drug user, engaged in casual sex and enjoyed the 'let it be' attitude of the sixties. This reflection propels her toward a personal revelation.

What struck me most reading this fictionalized memoir was the joy and love these two girls/women felt towards each other. They truly had a friendship that endured. How difficult it must have been for Laura to read those letters. I enjoyed the letter and journal format. The writing was so believablem it had me truly thinking that this was an actual memoir!

You can read Linda Rader Overman's blog here.


Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

Wow this sounds like it will be good. I wonder how the writing style will work for me.

Chronicles of an Ordinary Woman said...

I do want to thank you for very much for the supportive review but I have to remind you and readers that the novel is fiction and epistolary in nature and the main character is Laura...not me...the letters are also fiction...but in reading this as a memoir you have paid me a high complement in foregrounding the verisimilitude of the work.

Cheryl said...

Nice review. I read this book and enjoyed it as well

Angela said...

That sounds like a really good book. I'm going to add it to my to-read list.

bermudaonion said...

This one sounds so good. Thanks for a great review.