Letters to a Stranger

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 5 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for giving me Arc of Letters to a Stranger

This book got a great plot and I don't want it to end because its starting to get interesting 😂 

I can't believe what Berta's mom and sister did to Berta's dad and her sister's dad. They are insane!! 

Oh yeahh how can Berta fall in love with Saul (her sister's ex bf?) just from reading his love letters? Asdfghjkl I'm speechless

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Letters to a Stranger by Mercedes Pinto Maldonado is a fiction where the protagonist Berta has to come back to Spain from London to settle the financials and properties after her mother's death. Berta has a troubled childhood from which she runs away at the age of nineteen and builds a life of her own in London. 

Berta has to face her childhood demons while she stays at the house where she grew up. When she tried to find answers from her past with the help of a private detective, she finds herself in trouble. Her nanny Teresa, pet cat Aris and her doll Neca are her only companions. She finds a bunch of letters in the attic and starts reading them. Berta falls in love with the writer of the letters who happens to be living far away in USA trying very hard to get back in touch with his love Yolanda. 

The story's plotline is a little flat but readable. I really wish Berta finally settled with Saul.
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The only bad thing about this book is that it had to end.   It was such an enjoyable read and the writing was stellar.  I am going to be reading much more from this author!  Highly recommend!
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This was such an amazing read that I couldn’t put it down. It went everywhere with me. To the doctors office, the dentist, the eye doctor. IT WENT ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. I was so sad when it ended that I immediately went and bought more books from this author!
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Letters to a Stranger is an original and beautifully written story. Berta is returning to Madrid after fifteen years to deal with her deceased mother's estate. She feels nothing but contempt for her mother, and elder sister Yolanda, and hasn't spoken to them since she escaped. Berta's mother Dona Alberta was a cold and callous woman who showed no love to her daughters. Where Berta became quiet and compliant, her older sister Yolanda became sly and manipulative. The only person who showed any warmth or affection to Berta was their housekeeper, Teresa who was more of a mother to her than her own. As Berta reflects back on her life, she realises her emotional scars have not healed. As secrets and lies are revealed Berta begins to wonder if there is anyone she can trust. A locked drawer in the attic reveals hundreds of letters from a man called Saul, in love with her sister, and accused of murdering her husband Bodo, who was also her mother's lover and Berta's father. Saul escaped Madrid on a false passport, and lives in the U.S., falsely accused but unable to return to his homeland for fear of arrest. Berta becomes obsessed with discovering the truth and hires a private investigator Alfonso. As she reads Saul's letters of undying love and despair, she begins to fall in love with him. She writes back to let him know that his letters have at least been read, albeit by a stranger, and that he has given her hope. As Alfonso begins to uncover the truth about the past, Berta is devastated to discover the extent of her mother's and sister's crimes which are darker than she could ever have imagined. In a most poignant moment, she attends an exhibition of Saul's work in Paris (he is an artist) and is beyond shocked to find that he is there. He had received her letter and came to thank her and to let her know that he is starting a new life. This moment is devastatingly sad, but also a beautiful end to their story. And we hope, as the reader, a moment of healing for Berta, and the start of a new life for her too, in the knowledge that love does exist and that she is worthy of it.
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Depressing? Cathartic? Somewhere In Between? This book is all about loss, with a tale of finding yourself in the loss embedded within it. Because of this, it is really hard to decide how I ultimately feel about the book. It is absolutely strong and well written (at least in the English translation), and does an excellent job of creating a world and telling a compelling story within that world while evoking emotions within the reader. But this is one of those books that you’re going to want to pick up as zany hilarious romantic comedy as you can find afterwords, just to lift your spirits a bit. Great tale, very much recommended.
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It had been fifteen years since Berta had last been in Madrid. But she had to return following the death of her mother. As she starts readying her mother's home to be sold, she comes across some letters. She did not know that when she went to Madrid, that her life would change forever. 

Berta had left Madrid fifteen years ago as she did not get along with her mother and sister. I was intrigued by this story from the moment that I read the blurb. There's so many secrets uncovered. There's so many questions that need answered. But not all of the secrets are buried in the past. The characters are complex. The plot line believable. A great read.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK and the author Mercedes Pinto Moldonado for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Initially I was really into this and super drawn in by the story and setting, but it all just got a bit boring. Aris the cat was probably my favourite character in the whole book as the rest are all just unlikeable for me. I felt that a lot of things were left unresolved which left me feeling frustrated as i wanted answers and explanations! I don’t blame our protagonist for moving to London though; her family sounds awful!! The largest issue was the love for Saul just from reading his letters. Who would honestly fall in love with their sisters ex after reading some letters??? 

Overall it had a strong start but flattened out for the remainder of the book. 
Many thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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The book started off slow. I was a little bored with it in the beginning but once it got started and you realized that both her mother and sister married men that disappeared it really got going. Honestly I really liked the book. I felt like the ending was a little rushed to wrap it all up but I liked the character development and the fact that you didn’t really see the mystery plot coming in the beginning. The letters don't come into play right away so you don’t realize where the title comes from but I enjoyed having Saul’s letters be in the book. They were a great addition and you get to see the feelings of a man that’s insanely in love with a woman that was using him but never realized it. He thinks that it was all a misunderstanding and Yolanda will write back to him because their love is so true. 

Mercedes Pinto Maldonado did an amazing job weaving a story that when you get sucked in there's no way to put it down until  the book is over. It leaves you guessing. Though I will admit I did get a little frustrated that some things happened and Berta didn't call the police like I feel a normal person would. (That poor doll) I'm glad I was approved for the novel and highly recommend it.
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Really enjoyed this book! Was easy to read, great characters and storyline. Definitely recommend to others who  like this type of story. Author did a wonderful job.
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I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest review.

Such an interesting read. Part old mystery, part ghost story, part literary fiction combined into one compelling saga.

I enjoyed the story and kept wanting to get back to reading to see what happened 15 years ago. I was perplexed about the lack of resolution with Saul's story and the mystery involving her sister. Yes, there was information given but I still feel like a major chunk was left out. I also can't believe that Berta was in live with Saul...infatuation ..yes, everlasting love ..not so much.
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Publisher's description: Her family is built on secrets and lies. Can she confront the truth she’s been running from for years?

Fifteen years ago, Berta fled from Madrid to London to escape the controlling mother who made her childhood a living nightmare. Now, following her mother’s death, she is forced to return and face the ghosts of her unhappy past.

But it is not long before she discovers that her own bleak memories are nothing compared to the dark deception lurking in her family. How did her sister’s loveless marriage really end? And is the loyal housekeeper really hiding the truth about the strange disappearance of Berta’s father?

As she searches for facts among the fiction, Berta finds a handful of letters that reveal a story more twisted than she could ever have imagined. And as she starts piecing together the sinister family mysteries that have always plagued her, it soon becomes clear that these dangerous secrets are not confined to the past…
"Letters to a Stranger" by Mercedes Pinto Maldonado felt like an extremely slow read. Berta is in Madrid for the first time in 15 years, handling her mother's estate. Her older sister Yolanda is not around and suggests in their only conversation in the entire book that Berta "sell up" on her mother's two properties and go home to London. Little did we know that her sister had ulterior motives, but we never really find out what those are. We also never really find out the back story of Berta's mother and why Berta and Yolanda's childhood was so tormented. We know that it was...just not enough background to explain why.


The story is narrated by Berta, and she spends an endless amount of time reading letters that she finds in an old bureau in the attic of her childhood home. The only other key characters are Theresa, the housekeeper who practically raised Berta and Yolanda, and Alfonso, a private investigator Berta hires to look into the disappearance of her father many years ago. Because Berta is alone most of the time, the book is practically all narration with very little dialog. It took a really long time to pick up, and much of the book is Berta wallowing in her own self-pity. It actually was quite depressing.

There is an interesting spin on a love story without a happily ever after with a murder mystery backdrop that wraps up a little too neatly without a lot of explanation. This one wasn't for me. Maybe some others would like it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. This title is scheduled for release on October 22, 2019.
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Two interesting characters in this book. Berta and her hideous mother. I would have fled from the mother as well to be honest and went to London. The return journey after her death however is difficult - it has been 15 years since Berta was last year. When she meets the woman who looked after her mother for many years, all kinds of secrets come out. There’s a lot she has to do to come to her past and on that note, there’s a lovely little subplot involving Aris the cat who helps her do just that. Sadly, there’s a lot of thinking time in this book, a lot of hard emotions to face and Berta does seem to overthink things. The novel felt very drawn out and dark because of this and the ending, in contrast, a bit to fairytale-esque. 

An interesting translated book to read though!
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Great story line kept me gripped right to the very end. Berta arrives home to Madrid after a long time living in  London. Her mother has died and she thinks she is there just to sign some paperwork and then return to her restaurant.  She becomes caught up in a mystery surrounding the house, her mother, her sister and the long term family servant. Lots of twists and turns held my attention to the very end, but it didn't turn out as I had hoped and expected. I felt the end was rushed and there was no clear final closure. Perhaps there is a sequel planned to finish off the loose threads I was left with at the end.
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I read this, but didn't really enjoy it. It didn't get going until about halfway through and by then I was not very interested in the outcome. Sorry, it was just not my type of book I guess.
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Letters to a Stranger had so much promise, but it fell short for me. The self pity is so depressing and the book is a bit slow.
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I was most enamoured by the title of this book (perhaps the draw of a book should not be based on title alone but it certainly helps!). Sadly, I did not enjoy this book personally as i found it a bit boring. Perhaps it is more suited to readers who have a preference for mystery novels.
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This book would do V. C. Andrews proud.  Family secrets,  mysteries,  history threatening the present, who committed what crime? If you don't want to stay up late reading this to the end, then don't pick it up! This book WILL cause you to lose sleep and forget to eat!` I can hardly wait to read the next book by Ms. Maldonado!
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Family of Secrets

Berta left home to start a life on her own  in London and to get away from her controlling mother. Fifteen years later she receives a call from Theresa ,her mother's housekeeper, that her mother had passed away.  She couldn't know by returning to Madrid and her mother's home the secrets that she would find, or that her life as she knew it would change.

The emotions this character felt and her interaction with the other characters in the book were so overwhelming that I could feel them along with her.  I jumped when the phone rang, I could smell the French perfume in the setting room.  I could hear the purring of the cat,  and feel the softness of his fur. I was so intrigued with the story. I couldn't wait to see what was in the next letter from the mysterious Saul.  I wanted to know everything Alphonso the PI found out. I couldn't make up my mind if Theresa was part of the secret in a bad way or if she was Berta's friend. 

So many secrets, her sister, her mother, the father that disappeared never to be seen again. The man she learned was her real father who also disappeared. The young freeloading nephew of the housekeeper. They all had parts in this intriguing mystery.

I  read way too long into the night as I didn't want to put the book down.  The book was suspenseful right up to the ending. It was a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I will definitely recommend this book.
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A great read which kept me reading to the last page. I was impressed that she merged a murder mystery with a love story. 
I would like to read more by Mercedes.
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