Missing Words by Loree Westron

‘How quickly things can change and disappear.’

England, 1984. Jenny works as a postal worker in Portsmouth. She is nearing forty, her marriage is struggling, her daughter is almost nineteen. Life for Jenny is not quite what she envisaged it would be and is about to become more difficult as her friend and colleague is about to retire. One day as she sorts the mail, Jenny comes across a postcard from Australia. The address is incomplete but, moved by the message which begs the recipient for forgiveness, Jenny takes the postcard instead of directing it to the dead letter office. The partial address includes the Isle of Wight, and Jenny thinks that she might be able to deliver the postcard herself.

What follows is both a physical journey (as Jenny cycles around the Isle of Wight) and an emotional journey (as Jenny thinks about and regrets some of her past actions). Written on the postcard is a request for the recipient to phone the sender by the end of August:

‘If I don’t hear from you by then, I’ll know it‘s really over.’

As she cycles around the Isle of Wight, Jenny has time to think of the past, of her own regrets and expectations. She struggles at times with the ride (can she do it?) and enlists the help of locals to try to find the address. And as we travel with Jenny, we learn about her first love, about a tragedy which has befallen her family, and about Jenny’s hopes and fears for her daughter, Charlotte.

This is a novella about life, about coming to terms with the past to face the future. It is a reminder, as well, that not all problems can be fixed, that life is full of choices and their consequences. I finished the novel, hoping that Jenny would find her own peace with the world, with her husband Simon and daughter Charlotte. A thoughtful and enjoyable read.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Fairlight Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith