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

4.0 out of 5 stars 276 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Letter Series

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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 (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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