The Love Letterby Cathleen Schine
An anonymous love letter arrives in Helen MacFarquhar's mail one summer morning. Written by an unknown lover to a mysterious beloved, the letter becomes Helen's obsession. The proprietress of a bookstore in a quaint New England town, Helen is content with her calm, controlled world, running her life like a well-oiled machine. A merry divorcee with a bright, lovable 11-year-old daughter, she has settled happily into a sensible daily routine of selling books, motherhood, and charming the local townsfolk. "How do you fall in love?" the letter asks. To her dismay, Helen finds out. Johnny is the college student who works in Helen's bookstore, a boy with all the irresistible modesty and arrogance of youth. Helen knows she is too old for him, and too wise, but the letter's ardor is overpowering and Helen is swept up in an unlikely, but fiercely tender love affair. The Love Letter was a national bestseller appearing on Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, and Village Voice Literary Supplement lists. Published in highly successful hardcover and mass market editions, this classic 1995 novel is being converted to trade paperback to reach the true audience for literary fiction. Plume edition of Cathleen Schine's previous novel, Rameau's Niece, continues to sell over 400 copies per month. Schine is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Mirabella, and other publications.
Patricia C. Heaney, Nassau Community College Library, Garden City, N.Y.
“[Helen's story] is a familiar one. . . . but Ms. Schine renders it in these pages with such deftness and good-natured humor that the reader can't help but be enchanted.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Rarely less than sublime . . . A sophisticated and witty valentine of a novel.” People
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.38(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.02(d)
Meet the Author
Cathleen Schine is the bestselling author of Rameau's Niece and The Evolution of Jane. Her novel The New Yorkers was published by FSG in May 2007. She lives in New York City.
- New York, New York, and Venice, California
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth:
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- B.A., Barnard College, 1976
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Heard about the book because of the movie, which was okay but good in parts. The setting and the bookstore especially. Oh and Ellen of course. So while browsing the shelves (isn't it always), I saw the book and the cover is nice, what with the beach in the background. Gives off a cozy vibe in a way. Anyway, you have a bunch of characters, a mysterious love letter and a bookstore. But mostly it revolves around two characters, bookstore employees Helen and Johnny and a love affair begins. All because of a letter one thinks wrote to the other. Well sort of. I liked the writing at times, some of the descriptions were poetic in a way and set the setting well. I wouldn't have minded reading about the everyday lives of the employees at the bookstore in a small quiet town. It has a slow pace, and so took my time reading it. It was a cute if at times weird story.
I liked this book, though not quite as much as The Evolution of Jane, which I think is easier to digest. My judgement might be biased, though, since I saw the movie before reading the book and found the movie to be superior in many ways. Still, an enjoyable read. Cathleen Schine is a wonderful writer.
Perfect love story of a smart woman who finally finds love. A mysterious letter makes the plot even more interesting. Shows that love can be found in people who seem so dissimilar from each other.
I tried to like this book, but by page 61, I had to put it down. The main charachter, Helen, is a self-absorbed tramp and an unfit mother. She kisses people on a whim. She flirts and sleeps with anyone in town. She talks about how much she misses her daughter, who is away at camp, but I don't believe that she thinks of anyone by herself. She freely drops the F-bomb casually, as if that were speech becoming of a lady...which she is not. The plot is absurd. That she could be as callous and crude as she is represented to be and as popular as she is also purported to be, is impossible. This character is lewd, obstinant, selfish, childish, and impetuous. Do not pick this book up unless you admire loose women who are horrible mothers. Disgusting, and not a very funny book, either.
I do not go in for romantic drivel, so I began to read this book with a skeptical eye. By page 25, I was captivated. I loved the main character Helen, with her tough/vulnerable demeanor. The sub-plot lines were enough to keep my interest piqued throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!
As a mother of a 'young man' I was very disappointed that Helen, who I at first liked, had no self-control or conscience. I suppose this 'me only' attitude is modern and I'm not.