THE LETTER by Richard Paul Evans


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 Third in Evans's mega-successful and ditto sentimental saga (The Christmas Box, 1995; The Timepiece, 1996) about the good David and MaryAnne Parkin of Salt Lake. The action starts in 1933, twenty years after the couple's beloved three-year-old daughter, Andrea, died. It seems that the affluent David, in his grief, has grown guarded in his love for MaryAnne, has built ``walls around his heart,'' a failing the reader needs to take pretty much on faith, since David remains insufficiently three-dimensional for much dramatic evidence to emerge. It must be true, though, because MaryAnne has had it up to here: in fact she's about to leave forever, under guise of going to a brother's wedding in England. Once she's gone and he finds her Dear John letter, David--well, he falls very low indeed. Why, though, did his daughter's death hit him so hard? Might it have to do with his own mother's abandonment of him--for showbiz- -when he was only five? And might she, though thought dead, be the same who recently left another letter, this one on Andrea's grave? To try to allay his psychological ghosts, David goes to Depression-era Chicago to dig up what he can about his mother's life in the theaters there--an expedition that fills the book's center, may be its most involving section, leads David to an ``insight,'' and is ended suddenly when, back home, his dear old Negro friend, Lawrence Flake, has a stroke. David's return and Lawrence's illness will bring about a revelation, a reversal, a battle between good and evil, and two deathbed scenes, one more mawkish than the other, each extended deliciously by the absence of modern medicine. Evans's world of the angelic and the satanic, of homily, sermonette, and deep thoughts, is brought--in his usual rickety, jerry-built fashion--to life once again. Whatever your reaction may be to melodrama, read it and weep. (First printing of 500,000; Literary Guild featured selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-83472-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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