Cast your mind back before text messages, before email and even before MSN messenger, how did we communicate?
Growing up I loved receiving a letter (not so much now as it is usually a bill) but when I was around 10/11 years old I had a friend who used to send me letters and I remember being so excited when the letter would land on the door mat and reading what he had to say. Don’t get me wrong he was only a 3 hour drive away, he didn’t live in another country and at 11 it wasn’t like our lives were that exciting that we had loads to tell each other but we kept it going well over a year. My mum used to laugh saying my face would beam when those letters arrived but it made me feel so grown up and there was this one person I could share my secrets with.
Florence Littauer sums up for me the written word perfectly; “The beauty of the written word is that it can be held close to the heart and read over and over again.” for me a letter triumphs over an email, or a text message because it is there it is tangible and it means that for that moment you were in that person’s thoughts.
When I read a book I create those characters in my head from the words I read and the chances are if I have got a friend who is reading the same book the character will not look the same for them. Words in books or letters can transport you to another world. They can offer you solace when times seem hard and if you are one of the lucky ones to receive a love letter it can make your heart skip a beat to read those words.
In the 1960’s letters were really the only form of communication and for Jennifer and Anthony it was the way of keeping their relationship alive. Jennifer is in a marriage where a woman should be seen and not heard, a marriage where her job was too look pretty and host good dinner parties. Anthony aka Boot enters Jennifer’s life and turns it upside down but whereas Anthony’s normal practice was to sleep with married women and then disappear Jennifer changes something inside him. She encourages him to put his deepest feelings on paper, feelings that he is not even sure of himself until they are written. Those letters bare Anthony’s soul and his deepest heartaches. They allow Jennifer the opportunity to understand the man she has fallen in love with.
“I’m not sure how I earned the right. I don’t feel entirely confident of it even now. But even the chance to think upon your beautiful face, your smile, and know that some part of it might belong to me is probably the single greatest thing that has heaped to me in my life.”
Time moves on and the year is 2003 and Ellie a journalist comes across some of these letters and she finds it upon herself to work out their story. Were these lovers destined to be together. Does Jennifer found the courage to leave her husband for the man she loves. Does Anthony give her the world he promised?
So for my Boot wherever you are when you come along you I don’t need flowers or chocolates but you best put it on paper. And to the man who wrote me those beautiful letters all those years ago you have set the bar high.
Her voice drops to a whisper: “I’m afraid nobody will ever love me like that.”