This book is a collection of love letters written by an unidentified woman to her beloved. The letters detail the process of a beautiful but tragic love story beginning with her discovery of her feelings for him and her fear that these are not reciprocated, then her joy at the revealing of his feelings for her, her excitement and plans for their marriage and future life together, and then her confusion and absolute despair when he discards her.

This was a remarkable book to read. Firstly, my copy seems to have been written and published in 1901 and it feels a privilege to read a book that old; I found my copy in a lovely old bookshop and it has only a paper jacket and is very fragile so I was immediately charmed by it! Secondly, the book is very mysterious and intriguing as the author (seemingly the letter-writer) is unidentified, with the introduction stating that anything leading to the identity of the author has been concealed. The introduction also goes on to hint at a tragedy that befell the author, so this also adds to the hint of mystery.

The letters are beautiful to read with touching, heartfelt and very romantic phrases; I actually felt quite guilty reading the letters as they seem so private and personal. Because the author appears to be writing her letters on a daily basis they deal with little daily occurrences and read as if a thought has just occurred to her and she has immediately written it down, and this increases the personal and private feeling of the letters as it is almost like seeing her innermost thoughts. I very much liked the author/letter-writer and her mischievous sense of humour; an example being when she teases that it is too soon in their relationship to use the word ‘love’ and then spells the word using italics concealed within other words.

I did feel frustrated that there are no replies to her letters; she occasionally refers to a comment he’s made in his letter but there are not even any answers in her letters to questions asked by him. We are never able to know him as we know her, although perhaps this then allows the reader to share the author’s feelings of confusion and shock when her lover rejects her.

I was hoping throughout the whole book that these were genuine letters written by a lady and that they had been found and collected together into a book, rather than them being a fiction and possibly written by a man (they seemed such feminine letters that I struggled to imagine them being written by a man). However, I did then wonder how the letters had come to be found as they wouldn’t have been in the lady’s possession, rather they’d have been in the gentleman’s possession and then why would he keep them if their relationship had ended? I spent quite some time searching on the internet for clues to the author of the book and whether the letters were truth or fiction and I didn’t discover anything for certain, but there did seem to be hints that the letters were fictional and the author was a man. I did find this disappointing and for a time it rather shattered my romantic notions of the book and my enjoyment of it – however, in the absence of definite information I admit I do cling to the hope that they are genuine letters written by a tragic lady. This is definitely one of the most remarkable books I have read.