Review of ‘Letters Never Sent’ by Sandra Moran, Audiobook narrated by Lisa Larsen
There are some books that, no matter how long ago you’ve read them, will stay in your memory as if it was just yesterday. For me, this is the case of ‘Letters Never Sent’ by Sandra Moran. I’ve read it in 2014 and it made such an impact on me that if someone asked me to choose a single lesfic book to recommend, it would be this one.
The story – set in 1997 – revolves around Joan who discovers some mysterious letters written in the 1950s by Katherine, Joan’s recently deceased mother. These letters reveal a surprising side of Katherine that makes Joan wonder about her mother’s past. The novel takes the reader back and forth between the 1930s-1960s to the late 1990s. It’s a story of the older woman’s forbidden love and the younger woman’s search for her identity.
‘Letters Never Sent’ is those types of books that are hard to put into a category, it’s partly historical fiction, lesfic, general fiction, drama, mystery, even feminist literature. The novel goes smoothly from the early 1930s to 1997 though not in chronological order, in very cleverly presented flashbacks that slowly reveal the story behind the puzzling letters.
Both Joan and her deceased mother Katherine are hard to like characters but the beauty of this novel is how, as the story unfolds, the reader understands their actions and why they act as they do. Every single character is perfectly written as well as each dialogue and scene. The fact that this is Ms. Moran’s debut makes this book even more impressive.
This is not an easy read but it’s hopeful and the twist at the end is epic. It’s a story of hardships and suffering but also of love and devotion. Sandra Moran was a gifted writer and her too early passing is a devastating loss for lesbian and women’s literature. I had the audiobook in my player for a good while but I was hesitant to read it fearing that somehow it could be a letdown. Now I wished I listened to it earlier.
The audiobook is narrated by Lisa Larsen who hasn’t read much lesfic. I have to say that her performance is fantastic and honours the beauty of the written text. Ms. Larsen’s voices are all distinctive, perfect for age, and gender. As I said before, this is an emotional book with some very difficult scenes but Ms. Larsen’s performance is outstanding. There are a couple of technical errors (sentences that are repeated) but I’m happy to overlook them as the whole result is magnificent. This is a fantastic lesbian debut audiobook. I couldn’t recommend it more. 5+ stars.
Trigger warning: short but explicit non-consensual sex scene.
Duration: 13 hrs and 14 mins