Leave it to the author JoJo Moyes to make us scream ugly over and over again. Netflix book-to-movie adaptation of The last letter from your lover is a story of second chances and long-lost love. Also, it doesn't hurt that the historic romance film has a star-studded cast including Shailene Woodley, Joe Alwyn, Felicity Jones, Callum Turner, and Nabhaan Rizwan.
The film and its novel counterpart tell the emotional story of two strangers who have an illicit affair through love letters and secret rendezvous, only to be torn apart before their relationship is ever fair. Decades later, a reporter comes across the couple's letters and persuades her editor to get it published as a story in the newspaper – but first she has to test her journalistic skills and track down these mysterious lovers to get the full picture. Whether you step into this movie with fresh eyes or have already read the book, here is a quick recap of everything in the book version of The last letter from your lover. Warning, spoilers ahead!
Is there a love triangle in your lover's last letter?
It's 2003 and Ellie Haworth's (Jones) career as a newspaper writer has plateaued. To make matters worse, she is in love with a married man who swore to leave his wife but didn't. While organizing her newspaper's archives, she discovers a love letter from 1960 signed by a person named "B" (Turner). In the letter, B declares his love for a mysterious woman and asks her to meet him at Paddington Station to start a new life together. Moved (and hoping to get some juicy news from it), Ellie and her new boyfriend Rory (Rizwan) set out to piece this romantic love story together.
In a 1960 flashback, Jennifer Stirling (Woodley) wakes up in a hospital bed without remembering how she got there. She said she was in a car accident, broke several bones, and was in a coma. Her husband Laurence (Alwyn) takes her home, where he vigorously encourages her to return to a normal life. Because of the crash, Jennifer's memory is blurry until one day she comes across a letter signed by B and things slowly start to come back up.
Because the story is told in two timelines, readers will learn more about the love story of Jennifer and B through Ellie and Jennifer's perspectives. Jennifer recalls the events that led to the crash: the fancy dinners and cocktail hours; flirtatious conversations with B, whom she calls Boot. Laurence keeps Jennifer on a tight leash, so Jennifer and Boot communicate much of their affair exclusively through letters. In modern London, Ellie and Rory keep searching for new information until there is only one thing left to do: track down today's Jennifer.
Did Jennifer meet Boot at the train station in The Last Letter From Your Lover?
With the original letters and her recorder in tow, Ellie arrives at Jennifer's posh mansion. When she saw the letters for the first time in decades and heard that Ellie had also found an illegal lover, Jennifer told her life story: She was never as in love with her husband as she was with Boot. As with many marriages in the '60s, Jennifer was expected to have dinner on the table when her husband came through the door, have sex whenever he wanted, and attend to his social and personal needs no matter what happens. Boot was the opposite of Laurence, and they fell madly in love after he was hired to report on her husband for the newspaper. The two made plans to run away together, but she never made it to the train station.
Jennifer tells Ellie about the car accident and the regret she felt after she didn't run away with B. Then came the birth of their daughter Esmé. Divorce wasn't an option back then, so Jennifer did the next best thing. She blackmailed Laurence with documents showing wrongdoing in his company. In return for her silence, she was allowed to move out and have a private life and keep his last name while Laurence was allowed to continue his affair with his secretary. Before leaving Jennifer, Ellie asks the multi-million dollar question: What happened between Jennifer and Boot? The phone rings and interrupts their conversation, but not until Ellie hears his real name, Anthony O'Hare.
The book then rewinds to the week after Jennifer left Laurence. She goes on a trip to Central Africa, where she suspects Anthony is on assignment. But she cannot find Boot in Africa because there is war in the Congo and all connecting flights have been canceled. After a disappointing cul-de-sac, Jennifer returns home and years later she still hasn't found Boot.
How does Ellie think of Boot in the last letter from your lover?
After meeting Jennifer, Ellie sets out to track down Boot, aka Anthony O'Hare. With a stroke of luck, she stumbles across a journalist colleague who bears the same name as Anthony's son – Phillip O’Hare – and asks in a cold email whether his father has ever traveled to the Congo for a newspaper. An email later, Ellie got Phillip on the phone. He tells her that his father worked at her newspaper nation, since 40 years. Confused, Ellie explains that she did a directory search of all the writers on the staff. But he tells her his father is not a writer, but an archivist in the library – it was from this library that Ellie was pulling old clippings all the time. Meanwhile, Ellie's relationship with Rory escalates to new heights, but she still can't shake her feelings for her married lover.
How does your lover's last letter end?
The story closes when Ellie confronts Anthony O'Hare in the library with his letters to Jennifer in hand. Incredibly surprised, Anthony immediately asks how she came up with the 40-year-old letters. Ellie shares her findings with Anthony and lets him know that Jennifer is still alive and has not stopped thinking about him. She gives him an address and tells him where to send his next letter.
Jennifer and Boot exchange several letters and arrange a face-to-face meeting. On the final pages, Ellie smooths things out with Rory and ends her tumultuous affair with the married man. Ellie accompanies Jennifer into the garden, where she has arranged to meet Anthony, and when their eyes meet, it is as if the world has stopped. They never stopped loving each other.