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The Last Letter (The Letter Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – February 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kathleen Shoop, PhD, is a language arts coach in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Award Winner--Best Regional Fiction, Midwest) is her debut novel. She is published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and regularly places articles and essays in local magazines and newspapers. Kathleen is also married and the mother of two children.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Letter Series
  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456347209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456347208
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

NOW AVAILABLE--
Books One and Two in The Letter Series! The Last Letter and The Road Home take readers back in forth in time, spanning years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Join the Arthur family as they attempt to make peace and find redemption for the choices they made when all went wrong.

Books One, Two and Three in the Endless Love series. Check out Home Again, Return to Love and Tending her Heart for romance, sweet love, and beach settings...

After the Fog--set in 1948, Donora, Pennsylvania during the historic and infamous killing smog! Follow community nurse, Rose Pavlesic, as she strives to hold her family together while the town falls apart...

Love and Other Subjects--A fun, quirky, heartwarming romp through life with Carolyn Jenkins as she attempts to find love and be the best teacher to children who need more than she ever expected. Join her as she stands up for what is right and finds her way through that difficult, post-college time of life.

Bliss and Holiday Bliss--Two anthologies that take place at a historic home on the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Each short story is set in a different era, but pulls at the heartstrings, making readers yearn for a chance to stay on the water at Bliss! Home Again and Tending her Heart are in each of these anthologies.

Thank you for reading about me here and for purchasing my books! I'm married with two children. I've been seriously writing for almost a decade although I dabbled much earlier than that! I've had short stories published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, am a regular contributor to a local magazine, Pittsburgh Parent, and have had essays in local newspapers as well.

I have a PhD in Reading Education and have worked in schools for over twenty years. I work with teachers and their students in grades k-8 and am lucky to learn something new from them every time I walk through their doors. This experience was a huge help in writing LOVE AND OTHER SUBJECTS--a quirky, post-college coming of age story with a splash of fun romance.

My first novel, The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Medal--Regional Fiction, Midwest, 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction, 2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction), was a fascinating trip through history, punctuated with fictional characters and events. The idea for the story grew from my great-great grandmother's letters (see My Dear Frank for the complete set of letters!) written during the year of her engagement to Frank Arthur. The beautiful letters are the inspiration for the novel, the seed from which The Last Letter's characters and their voices grew.

I've also written women's fiction--LOVE AND OTHER SUBJECTS-- and have written another historical fiction novel, AFTER THE FOG, set in 1948 in Donora, PA. AFTER THE FOG is also an award winning book--A finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, a silver IPPY and WINNER in the literary category of the National Indie Excellence Awards.

I adore writing historical fiction (The Letter series, After the Fog) but am having a blast writing romance like Home Again and Return to Love (Endless Love series) Thank you so much for the time you take to read.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 141 people found the following review helpful By lkm on April 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
There were so many things to love about this book -- but the most compelling for me was depiction of the complexities and tragic misunderstandings of a relationship between a mother and her daughter. As the story opens we see Katherine, a 26 year old woman who is forced to take in her dying and estranged mother Jeannie. The source of Katherines bitterness and resentment toward her mother is unfolded in a parallel story line set in the 1800's, when Katherine was just a young girl who set off with her family as they attempted to make a new life on the prairie. But their little family was wholly unprepared for what prairie life had in store for them -- for the utter devastation it would bring to their family. Without divulging too much, I came to see Jeannie as a true heroine who, unbeknownst to her children, did the absolute best she could under utterly terrible circumstances. The adult Katherine could not begin to grasp the untenable situation her mother was left in - she knew only that the women whom she once adored, the most tender, loving and selfless person she knew - her playmate, her confidante, her protector and defender - her whole world, had turned her back on her. Katherine could not know the calamities that reduced the strong and capable Jeannie, with such limitless hopes and the noblest intentions for her family, to a walking wasteland. Katherine could not know that she had been purposely shielded from a father and husband deserving of neither title. They were children, mercifully kept unaware of the secrets that Jeannie hid away so deeply, and the cost of that protection was the love of her children. Kathleen has deftly demonstrated that the emotions, personal dilemmas and the heartbreaking decisions of a women on the prairie in the early 1800s are equally relevant today.Read more ›
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Curt Coulter on May 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
How fascinating!! Inspired by letters written by her great grandmother, Kathleen Shoop has crafted a fictional family tale of secrecy, deceit and torn relations against a stunningly accurate account of life on the prairie before and after the tragic "School Children's Blizzard" of 1888. Much like the main character in the story, Jeanie Arthur, Ms. Shoop's vivid descriptions tear the reader from the comfort of a civilized home and drop them, unprepared, in the midst of crude, primitive and unfamiliar terrain, a witness to the shocking, brutal and often disgusting realities equated with survival on the prairie in the 1800s. Lovers of history will relish the detail with which The Last Letter is penned. Those with yellowed family letters of their own, tucked away in dusty attic chests, will be moved by Jeanie's words to re-read their own family treasures, and perhaps even to preserve and honor them as Ms. Shoop has done in the compilation, My Dearest Frank, a must-have compliment to The Last Letter. And for every parent who makes gutwrenching decisions in the name of love, The Last Letter is a reminder that we should teach our children forgiveness because there is always some act, some discovered secret our children will struggle to forgive.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Gina Hurteau Shoen on July 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I was given a copy of this book for review. At first I thought I would be put off by the flashback chapters of the book, but soon I was taken in! I took the book on my long weekend and found myself reading more of the weekend than anythind else.

It reads like a fact based account of the terrible price that pioneers paid to settle the land in the west. I was drawn in by the authors great descriptions of life on the prairie, dugouts and the weather. The book was well written overall.

I was however a little disappointed with the ending, because it seemed to skip over everything I wanted to know. It left me hanging with more unanswered questions than answered ones, which is why I gave it a three star rating rather than a four.

I was also a little put off by the fact that every conceivable ill that could befall someone on the prairie did happen to the main character. It seemed like all she did was suffer and that was it, she never had an ounce of happiness in the book. In fact, if I knew someone like her, I'd avoid them whenever possible. We kept being reminded that she'd kill for her children, then she sort of gives them away, it really made no sense to me. For a character who was so well written that I BELIEVED she was a strong willed, independent woman who was willing to take on the prairie to start her life over again, I was sorely disappointed with how the author ended her story. It was almost as if the author was tired of writing and ended the book just to have it over with, rather than giving the cast of characters any real closure.

Great book, terrible ending. Definitely worth the read if you are a historical fiction fan or historical weather buff.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Julie Baswell on April 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a beautiful story revolving around Jeanie and her daughter Katherine. As you begin to read, you think that it is going to be told from Katherine's point of view, and it is, to an extent. The main story though, is through Jeanie's eyes. She tells of their unexpected life in the year 1888, whereas Katherine is telling of the resulting consequences in the year 1905. The story is told back and forth, so you basically know the ending, but the way it is written, you have to read the entire story to find out how it got to that ending, and this author knows how to make you want to know every circumstance that got Katherine and Jeanie to that point in their relationship.

Kathleen Shoop has a way of drawing you into the story. I wasn't just reading the story, I was living it alongside Jeanie. I felt every betrayal and horror that she felt. Ms. Shoop gave such vivid descriptions that you couldn't help but feel you were seeing it all pass like watching a movie, and I really did see the movie in my mind as I read. Once started, I could not put the book down until I finished it.

I connected with this story more than I care to admit. I give very few ratings of 5, but this one earned it because there wasn't anything about this book that I didn't like. I will definitely be reading more from this author.
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The Last Letter (The Letter Series) (Volume 1)
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