What’s it about?
Tess has a secret, a baby-shaped secret that will be making its entrance in nine short months. But that isn’t the only thing keeping her awake at night; her beloved grandmother Iris is slipping away just when Tess needs her most. Unexpectedly alone, Tess strikes up a friendship with Gigi, a friendly face from Iris’s nursing home.
Then Tess discovers Iris had a secret of her own. Did she really know her grandmother at all?
If there was a phrase to sum up this book, it would be ‘Live, Laugh, Love’. In fact, I’d be very surprised if the author did not have that phrase framed above her writing desk. They closely relate to each other, in that that phrase doesn’t really mean anything; this book doesn’t really say anything.
The blurb promised more than this novel gave. I thought that the letters of the title would be more of a feature, but they are barely there. They are a decorative sunset behind the ‘Live, Laugh, Love’. I feel like this story could have been so much more. For example, it could’ve jumped between Iris’s past and Tess’s present. It could’ve explored the reasons behind Iris’s silence, and why what happened happened. To be honest, the title hardly relates to the story within.
I did like how the novel put the female characters front and centre, and how they weren’t (exclusively) young bouncy types with great hair. On a side note, why do women in these kinds of novels always seem to work in HR or PR or media? Why can’t they be scientists or bankers or analysts? If there are any examples of women’s literature (for want of a better phrase) with these kinds of characters, send them my way. I could do with them. Anyway, I did like how the story explored how life doesn’t end for women after kids, and we have feelings too, dammit. But it skimmed the surface, and there seemed to be little depth of feeling involved. For example, when Tess’s boyfriend leaves her (spoiler alert: he’s a shit, but a well-meaning one), the heartache is of the pin-prick variety. I don’t care how little she’s in love with him, the end of a relationship hurts more than a paper-cut.
So there. I read it all, but it was like reading pink wafers; insubstantial. The Amazon tag line calls it “the most uplifting book you will read this year” and that isn’t really accurate.
Would I recommend it?
No, I wouldn’t. Jojo Moyes does this stuff better, and she doesn’t shy away from the gory details. For a proper uplifting read, try Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Now that’s uplifting.
Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble is published by Michael Joseph priced £12.99.
I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.