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The Fifth Letter Hardcover – January 24, 2017
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From the Publisher
Nicola Moriarty Talks With Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the author of First Star I See Tonight, Heroes Are My Weakness, and many other novels.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP): Nicola, first I have to gush a bit. I absolutely loved The Fifth Letter. I would have read it in one sitting if we'd had any groceries in the house. (I've never shopped so quickly or with so much resentment)! I love books that focus on long-term female friendships, but The Fifth Letter also had a great suspense plot. This was a gathering of 4 longtime friends, so who wrote that mysterious 'Fifth Letter?' (It took all my steely self-discipline not to peek ahead to the end. I'm so glad I resisted.) Since we’ve never met, I have a few questions:
Nicola Moriarty (NM): Thank you! I'm going to need to gush too, though! To have an author such as yourself not only read my work but enjoy it as well has pretty much made my year!
SEP: A mutual admiration society! Not to be judgmental or anything (!), but you put these four friends through the absolute worst girls' weekend ever. Have you gone on a girls' weekend yourself or participated in one of those obstacle course races that Joni makes her friends go through? If not, would you?
NM: Yes, I did really put them through a hellish few days! And yep, I've been away on lots of girls’ weekends with my high school friends, including one not too long ago where things almost took a nasty turn because we mixed wine with politics and religion, but luckily it ended in hugs.
I've done a few mud run/obstacle course races as well–I absolutely love doing them, they're the most fun you can have while exercising!
SEP: I’m going to take your word for it. So tell me Which of your leading characters do you most identify with? And–because I love good, juicy confessions–do you share any of their less desirable characteristics or, to be fair, their more admirable traits?
NM: It's hard to choose because I identify with little pieces of all of them, but I think it's mostly Joni, because I share her desire to hold tight to old traditions. And in terms of the less desirable traits that I share with her, I would have to confess to having been jealous over the years whenever my old school friends formed new friendships with other people they met after high school. It took me a while to accept that high school was over and that it was normal to expand your friendship circles!
SEP: I can so relate to that. I can also relate to the awkwardness of being part of a childhood friendship that no longer fits. Were you channeling a particular experience in your own life?
NM: While I've remained friends with a tight circle of women from high school, I have definitely had other old friendships that have changed and developed and ultimately become awkward as we grew apart and I've eventually had to accept that all we'll ever be is acquaintances on Facebook!
SEP: Every woman who’s reading this is nodding her head in agreement right now. The Fifth Letter brilliantly combines two of the genres that readers most enjoy: the female friendship novel and the suspense novel. Did you make a deliberate choice to merge these genres or was it a happy accident for readers like me?
NM: I think I'd have to call that a happy accident. I just had a story that I wanted to share and I didn't think too much about which genre it might fall into.
SEP: The best way, in my opinion to approach a book. Anything else you'd like to reveal to us?
NM: Yes, actually, I have a confession to make. Easter eggs are already available and yesterday I ate three Cadbury Creme eggs in a row. I feel much better for getting that off my chest!
SEP: And now, all we'll be able to think about for the rest of the day is eating a Cadbury egg. Thanks a lot! And an extra special thank-you for writing such a terrific page turner! I can't wait for readers to discover this book. When they rave about it, I'll just nod, look superior, and say, ”I told you so.”
NM: Thank you so much for the great questions!
“The meandering stories of these women are held together with the powerful question of who wrote the last letter, which reveals just how precarious childhood friendships are […] the book […] adeptly exposes the striking differences among the four friends and the five letters.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The brilliant unraveling of this sisterhood of secrets will leave you wondering how well you really know the best friends you’ve known forever. A must-read before your next Girl’s Night.” (Mary Hogan, author of The Woman in the Photo and Two Sisters)
“Lifelong friendships, secrets, and pages I couldn’t turn fast enough. The Fifth Letter is one of my favorite books this year, and Nicola Moriarty is now on my short list of favorite women’s fiction authors.” (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
“Readers [...] will race to the end as a credit to Nicola’s fine sense of pacing and suspense. An author to watch.” (Tracy Babiasz, Booklist)
“A delightful, heartwarming exploration of the twists and turns of true friendship, The Fifth Letter was simply delicious from the very first page to the last. [...] relatable characters, a fast-moving plot and just the right amount of mystery. I was hooked!” (Rachael Johns, internationally bestselling author)
From the Back Cover
Four friends . . .
Joni has been best friends with Deb, Eden, and Trina since high school, sharing a bond that has seen them through their teenage years and into adulthood. But now, time and circumstance is starting to pull them apart as careers, husbands, and babies get in the way. As their yearly vacation becomes less of a priority for everyone but Joni, how can she bring the four of them back together?
Four secrets . . .
During a laughter and wine-filled night, the women dare one another to write anonymous letters, spilling their deepest, darkest secrets. But the fun game turns devastating, exposing cracks in their lives and the friendship they share. Each letter is a dark confession revealing shocking information. A troubled marriage? A substance abuse problem? A secret pregnancy? A heartbreaking diagnosis?
Five letters . . .
Late on one of their last nights together, after the other three have gone to bed, Joni notices something in the fireplace—a burnt, crumpled, nearly destroyed sheet of paper that holds the most shattering revelation of all. It is a fifth letter—a hate-filled rant that exposes a vicious, deeply hidden grudge that has festered for decades. But who wrote it? Which one of them has seethed with resentment all these years? What should Joni do?
Best friends are supposed to keep your darkest secrets. But the revelations Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina have shared will ripple through their lives with unforeseen consequences . . . and things will never be the same.
Top customer reviews
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This book has a ridiculous premise, a silly plot, and was written and edited by people unfamiliar with basic English. I'm telling everyone this so them and me won't have to read more by she.
The whole group dynamic felt forced. I just couldn't see these women getting together every year. I get that they were friends as kids but they barely seemed to tolerate one another as adults. The husbands were cardboard and the kids were just names. None of the women had any interaction with their kids throughout the whole book.
Overall, I just didn't care for this book. I will say that I didn't expect the letter writer to be the person it was, but even still, this was a forgettable book for me. 100% beach read/chick-lit.
Although I thought Joni's character was a little uptight and annoying, overall, I enjoyed this book. I enjoy reading about 30 and 40-somethings, dealing with their spouses, their children, and their friendships. It's something I can relate to quite well.
The ending was a little, "meh." Otherwise, this probably would have been a 4 star book for me. It's certainly not an action-packed book, but it's an entertaining, quick read. Perfect for summer!
Within this story, we meet four friends who have known one another since primary school. All grown up, these woman get together on a yearly escape in order to have "girl time" and what not. And, to make things a bit more exciting I suppose, these women decide to write anonymous letters to each other spilling their deepest and darkest secrets. But one of the friends writes a fifth letter (the letter that sets off a whole bunch of events and makes the story super exciting) detailing some very unkind things. And the narrator, who is introduced as Joni, will stop at nothing to see which one is behind it.
This book is a great expose on dark secrets, the lies we tell, and how said lies can set off a chain of events that can change a persons life in an instant. It takes ordinary women with normal life issues and dramatizes them to a point where readers may find themselves gasping! Overall, it's just a really good book with some exciting and dark moments that will leave readers wanting to read it as fast as they can so they can see how everything turns out.
Now, while I truly enjoyed this story, one thing that really bothered me was the confusion I felt in getting to know the characters. There are four women, all of which have their own quirks, but are not so different in order for readers be able to fully tell them apart. Perhaps if the author set them apart in terms of personality a little bit more I couldn't have been confused on figuring out who is who within the book.
Other than this, I liked the story, I would read another by the author in a heartbeat, and I would recommend it to fellow readers!
An interesting book told in flashbacks of high school, a recap of confessions to a priest, and the annual girls trip. Most of the book is from Joni’s perspective.