A Letter in the Wall

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It’s the year 1971 and Joan Dumann sits in her apartment writing a letter in order to leave information and evidence in case her former business partner decides to take her out of the way, for good. Her plan was to call the police first, but they would take her for a crazy person, so her next move is to send them a letter, which is a task she doesn’t complete. Not trusting the sheriff, she puts the twelve pages of the letter in a new envelope, seals it, and writes a different address. In the letter, she provides a complete recollection of who she was and who she has become.

Born and raised in a well-known traditional Quaker family in the early twentieth century in the state of Pennsylvania, Joan felt emotionally restrained, always searching to find out who she was as a person. She has vague memories of the mother she lost due to the influenza pandemic at a very young age which played a crucial part in the shaping of her character.

Although she attended prestigious Quaker schools, she didn’t pay much attention to her studies and her grades were average. The first time she felt carefree was when she went to summer camp. There, she met Norman, a non-Quaker, whom the reader might say was Joan’s first childhood crush. When she returned home at the end of the summer, the only way to reach Norman was by letter since his family didn’t own a phone. So, she wrote him a letter that she never sent. But she didn’t throw it away. She kept it safe and sound in the wall of her bedroom where it waited for almost eight decades for the new owner of the house to find it.

This part is actually real because, in the author’s notes at the end of the novel, Eileen Brill discloses that that’s what happened to her and this marked the beginning of Joan’s story on written paper. The author notes that through an Internet and public records research, she found out Joan had multiple marriages, the births of her children, the deaths of her family members, her various addresses, and that she was murdered. Eileen Brill took all this information and wrote a compelling story giving us an inside look through six decades into the life of a woman who wanted to own what was truly hers.

Through the eyes and words of Joan, we get a glimpse at the twentieth-century world and how it treated women. A Letter in the Wall is Joan’s life journey from childhood to adulthood and there to empowerment. An ideal read for historical fiction fans.


Reviewed By:

Author Eileen Brill
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher SparkPress
Publish Date 24-May-2022
ISBN 978168463133
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2022
Category Mystery, Crime & Thriller
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