Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Noel Letters - Richard Paul Evans

The Noel Letters is latest entry in Richard Paul Evans' yearly Christmas 'Noel Series'.

Noel Post has not been back to her hometown in two decades. And that's also how long it's been since she's seen or spoken to her father. With the news that he is dying, she does make the trip. But she's not in time.

She inherits his beloved bookstore and meets his friends and co-workers. Their opinion of her father is worlds apart from Noel's. She also re-connects with Dylan, her old flame. And she starts to receive a series of letters full of wisdom and advice. They're unsigned but she sure it is Dylan's handiwork. 

Noel is a hard character to like in the beginning. She has her walls up and blinders on, determined to confirm what she's thought for the last twenty years. I initially found her obstinance a bit off putting. The supporting players consists of Wendy, bookshop manager, Grace - a customer and Dylan and his family. Wendy was intense, but I was quite drawn to Grace and Dylan. Both of them are genuine, calm and reasonable.

This series is always emotional and the books are released at the time of the year when we often reflect on our lives, our goals, our mistakes and our reparations. The reader can't help but become immersed in Noel's life, urging her to take a second look at her memories, her perceptions, her life and what the future holds for her. Love, loss, grief and forgiveness are amongst the themes Evans explores.

Evans has scattered literary quotes from well known authors throughout the book. I quite enjoyed these, along with the advice included in the letters. There's much food for thought. And the bookstore sounded heavenly - a place I'd like to be!

The ending isn't a surprise, but a surprise wouldn't do here. Instead, the right thing happens. And the journey to the right thing was just as enjoyable as the previous entries in this series. 

I chose to listen to The Noel Letters. The narrator was Helene Maksoud. She has narrated other books in this series and I was glad to hear her voice again. She has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. Her speed of speaking is just right - a very measured pace that suits the tone of the book. She captures the emotions in the book well and the tone and tenor reflect that.  She used a different voice for different characters. It was easy to tell who was speaking. Maksoud interprets Evans' book well and it made for a very enjoyable listen. Hear for yourself  - listen to an excerpt of The Noel Letters.

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