“Twenty-Six Letters” by Charlotte Nash is an immensely enjoyable read, but it’s difficult to
discuss the plot without spoilers. It’s also a novel that edges across genre lines without quite
Wilhelmina Mann has just entered her thirties and feels that she should have her life
together. But as her father is all too ready to point out, she doesn’t. She’s living at home, her
relationship barely deserves the name, she keeps screwing up at work, and she’s just been
After a cataclysmic few days, Wil is single, broke, homeless, and unemployed. One good
thing comes out of this: the arrest exposes an error at her father’s solicitor’s office. They have
a bundle of letters for Wil from her long-dead mother. Wil was supposed to have received
one each year; but she only received the first of them.
Wil has always felt her mother’s absence, and wondered how her life might be different if
she’d lived. The existence of the letters stir up a potent mixture of emotions. As Wil reads
them, she finds a picture of her mother – and indeed, Wil’s own past – that doesn’t match
Wil’s memories or what she’s been told over the years. Wil is drawn into finding out more
about her mother.
I really fear that if I tell you more about the plot, I’ll spoil a strong story. The plot sounds
straightforward, but combined with strong characterisation, it’s complex and layered. I found
it very difficult to put down.
Wil’s quest is compelling. At times the need to know what happens next is so strong that it
veers into the kind of pull I expect from a thriller. And although Nash calls herself a romance
writer, that element is subservient to the relationship between Wil and her absent mother. I
wouldn’t call this a romance novel. Essentially, this is a contemporary novel with elements of
a number of different genres, none of them dominant.
I was drawn to the different characters in different ways. I empathised strongly with Wil’s
mother. I understood Wil. I wanted to know more about David Hunter, the architect who gets
involved in Wil’s quest. I wanted to smack Wil’s father for his poor parenting. I was
intensely irritated by Baron Elston and the others who seem intent on impeding Wil’s efforts
to find out about her mother’s early life. And I really, really wanted to drop kick Rob (you
will too). In other words, every character generated a strong emotion or reaction in me.
This is an emotional and intelligent read, one that will be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.
I recommend it if you’re looking for something with a lot of emotional depth, but which is
written in an easy reading style. This will suck you in quickly and keep you till the last page.
Copy courtesy of Allen and Unwin (2022)
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Twenty-six Letters by
Charlotte Nash. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .