As always, like with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, novels written only in letter form are a bit jarring to begin with, but I always get used to them and things tend to flow. Olivia is a great writer and her letters are full of humorous language. You'd think it would be hard to tell a complete story just from the letters of one person, too, but the author, Elisabeth Robinson, makes it work. Sure, Olivia has to recreate every scene for us within letters, but it doesn't seem weird. I like her honesty (in letters to her family) and her spunk (in letters telling off her movie counterparts).
At the end, in an author's note, we learn Robinson was a movie producer in Hollywood for 10 years. And her sister was sick with leukemia. When she finally decided to fulfill her dream of writing a book, she contemplated writing a memoir vs. a novel. But when she realized with a novel she could say and be all those things she couldn't say or be in real life, that pushed her toward novel writing. So, how much is true is left up to our imagination, but I think the book comes across so truthful feeling because so much of it is in fact based in truth.
It's nothing groundbreaking, nothing fabulous, but it's a sweet, entertaining story. I found one passage on relapsing cancer that I thought was beautifully written (and could only be written by someone who knows), and I wanted to share it here, just to remember it:
Maddie relapsed. I hate to put it that way; it suggests responsibility that she did it, she relapsed, when it's the cancer that did it. There is a continual balancing act between acceptance and defiance, between being the victim and being the attacker. As a fighter, she just lost, which implies weakness, ineptitude, a lack of some crucial smarter strategy, greater strength, and this defeat would have been, should have been, a victory. You can't say, well, this enemy is just too strong for any fighter, because she is the enemy, too; the cancer is a part of her, as much as her will to conquer it is.