The Letter Tree: A Sweet Blend of Romance and Mystery in 1920s New York

“Sometimes folks don’t want to let go of their hate, even if they know they’re being watched. They hold it tight, like they would any other vice.”—Rachel Fordham, The Letter Tree.

3.5 stars

The Letter Tree by Rachel Fordham blends a dash of Romeo and Juliet with a pinch of You’ve Got Mail. In the 1920s, the Campbell and Bradshaw shoe companies are bitter rivals after their founding fathers fall out. Heirs to the companies, Laura Bradshaw and Isaac Campbell are raised to despise with each other.

The novel unfolds as Laura Bradshaw finds refuge in the letters hidden within the letter tree after losing her mother. Her correspondence with an anonymous writer becomes her lifeline, contrasting with her stifling relationship with her father. On the other side, Isaac Campbell, unaware of Laura’s identity, forms a deep connection with her through their written exchanges.

Several years pass with the letter correspondence being Laura’s only source of comfort, so she dates her father’s young business acquaintance even if he cannot compare to her anonymous correspondent. When Isaac Campbell learns his letter friend will court another, he begs her to break her rule of namelessness and meet him. Her words have endeared her to him. He’s ready to fall at her knees and beg her to choose him. The two eventually meet, and their secret identities are revealed.

While the forbidden romance trope has been overdone, Fordham infuses the story with mystery and depth, exploring themes of love, forgiveness, and the weight of family legacies. Despite the overly used premise, the novel’s endearing characters and heartfelt storytelling make it a delightful read. Though the pacing lags, the historical detail and exploration of Buffalo’s setting enriches the narrative. While the audiobook narration may not suit everyone, fans of clean, Christian historical fiction will find The Letter Tree to be a refreshing escape into a bygone era.

Overall, while the premise may feel a tad corny, it is a lovely read, sweet and mysterious. The novel’s redeeming qualities shine through in its endearing characters and heartfelt storytelling.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.




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