Letter From A Stranger
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin’s, Mar 27 2012, $27.99
Having completed a film documentary, director Justine Nolan returns to the Connecticut family home. Her mother Deborah, in China working a business deal, directed Justine to open her mail. Justine opens a letter with no return address postmarked Istanbul. Anita Lowe sent a note to Deborah that her mother is heartbroken and needs her to end their estrangement as the woman turns eighty soon. Justine is stunned as her mom said Gran Gaby Hardwick died ten years ago in a plane crash. She and her twin Richard have grieved their loss ever since.
The siblings agree to find Gran though Justine will go initially without her brother who will follow. Justine’s pretense is a documentary on the city. Their neighbor Joanne Brandon arranges for Justine to meet her friend in Turkey, Professor Ifrit Ozgonal. In Istanbul, even with help from Ifrit, Justine cannot find either Gaby or Anita. Ifrit takes Justine on a boat ride on the Bosporus when the American sees her Gran in her camera lens. Justine rushes passed Anita’s grandson security expert Michael Dalton to hug her Gran. Both are ecstatic. Justine tells Gran, Deborah said Gran died. Michael and Justine are attracted to one another as if struck by lightning even as the reunion continues.
This is a fabulous family epic due to deep insight into the beleaguered in Berlin during WWII and a wonderful tour of modern day Istanbul. The ensemble cast is fully developed with the romance supporting the prime relationship between Justine and Gran. Although conflict is limited to the bigoted mom as everyone else gets on too well in the present and in the 1940s, fans will enjoy learning Gran’s Final Solution that turned Deborah against her.