Chloe Daschle is the child of Hollywood royalty, but that hasn’t helped her in her quest to shed her image as the onscreen death queen. Chloe longs to break her typecasting and land a role in which she lives. When she reads a screenplay based on a love letter between real life Revolutionary era inhabitants Esther Longfellow and Hamilton Lightfoot, she is convinced she has finally found that part.
Jesse Gates is a mathematical genius, turned actor, turned screenwriter. Running from past tragedy, his big break arrives in the form of his first screenplay about his ancestor Hamilton Lightfoot. An even bigger break arrives when he meets Chloe and they are both cast in the film based on his screenplay. But Chloe is still wrestling with her past shame and an inferiority complex. And Jesse is still unable to forgive his own part in the death of someone he once loved.
In another century, Esther and Hamilton dwell amidst war in South Carolina. Esther has always loved Hamilton, but her father is an agent of the British crown. And Hamilton’s family support the Patriot cause. Just as Hamilton is ready to admit his love and claim Esther, personal tragedy drives them even further apart and Hamilton joins the fight against the British. Even still in the midst of conflict, he pens a letter declaring his love for Esther.
Centuries apart four people yearn for love, but wrestle with external circumstances and internal battles which keep them apart.
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book by Rachel Hauck and now I’m asking myself why? From the first page of The Love Letter, I found myself engrossed in this well-written time-slip novel.
Historical fiction is my jam, so I expected to be more intrigued by Hamilton and Esther’s story. To my surprise, I actually found myself more invested in Chloe and Jesse. I love that the author used Hollywood’s film industry as her contemporary setting. I have long been fascinated by the entertainment industry and the stars it produces. I even wrote a report of it for one of my classes way back in seventh grade. True story. This setting proved a great backdrop for Chloe’s battle with insecurity and self-doubt. I also appreciated how Hauck gave an understanding, compassionate but still honest portrayal of the film industry.
As for the historical setting, it apparently was inspired by the Mel Gibson film The Patriot. As a reader of historical fiction, I always enjoy reading about the Revolutionary war outside the traditional New England area. I also love books with southern settings and The Love Letter does not disappoint in that regard. It was interesting to read how people on opposite sides of the war lived together in the same area. It had to be difficult when friends and family suddenly found themselves on opposite sides of a fierce political conflict. I found Esther’s persistence and faithfulness to Hamilton in spite of her father’s disapproval inspiring. Hamilton’s hesitation to admit his love for Esther repeats itself centuries later in his descendant Jesse.
As a romance, I found the will they/won’t they of both relationships kept me on the edge of my seat. As in life, happy endings don’t always look like we think they will, and this is reflected in The Love Letter. Sometimes love means sacrifice, doing what is best for the other and even letting go at the expense of personal pain. This is something all four of the main characters learn. But the most important thing they learn is that regardless of the outcome, love always wins.
The Love Letter is a beautifully told tale, not only of love, but of faith and forgiveness. From the battlegrounds of the Revolution, to the film industry of contemporary America, from South Caroline to Hollywood, this message remains consistent. This is all undergirded by the skilled pen of an author whose backlog of books I will be moving up on my TBR list. The Love Letter is one of my favorite novels this year.