Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Letter (Letter #1)” as Want to Read:
The Last Letter (Letter #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Letter (Letter #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,517 Ratings  ·  218 Reviews
Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter...

Katherine Arthur's mother arrives on her doorstep, dying, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live of
Nook, 372 pages
Published April 27th 2011 by kathleen shoop (first published February 15th 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Letter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Last Letter

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book drove me a little crazy. I read the whole thing because I wanted to find out why Katherine was so mad at her mother, which is never revealed until the end, of course. I also wanted to know what life was like on the South Dakota prairie as it was first being settled. I have never read much on that. I study my family history/genealogy and have become very interested in settlers' life in the U.S. However, this book was extremely tedious and repetitive. The author really needs a good profe ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was a fair read but it seemed to me that the authors language did not fit the time period. I also felt that some of the characters in the story were not explained well enough to really understand and know them.
4.5 stars

The Last Letter is a riveting, beautifully written debut novel inspired by letters from the author's great-great grandmother. I literally couldn't put it down but ultimately it's not a feel good story, it's harsh and heart-breaking but it evoked strong emotions and that's a great read in my humble opinion.

Shoop spares no detail depicting the bitter realities of prairie life, the unforgiving landscape and weather, the relentless struggle, the arduous challenges with hygiene and heating,
After reading all the raving reviews about this book, I really thought I would enjoy it. The book is loosely based on the author's great great grandparents and the letters they wrote back and forth. It is set in the 1800's and talks of the horrible way of prairie life.

Jeannie and Frank have to move. They can no longer be the upstanding socialites of Des Moines after what Frank and Daddy did. They decide to give homesteading a go. Tragedy after tragedy leads these characters down depressing road
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-can-lend
This book was so good. It broke your heart, made you believe in the human spirit, and a families love. There were so many twists and turns I could not put it down and stayed up way to late as I was lost in it. The imagery the author uses takes you right back through time to make you feel as though you have traveled through time and are actually there with the characters. You feel their pain, their anger, their love, their losses and their gains. Very well done.
May 11, 2011 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Staci by: Kathllen Shoop
My Thoughts:
I was immediately drawn into this story and couldn't stop thinking about it until I turned the very last satisfying page. There were a few things that surprised me while reading this one.

I've been blown away by debut books this year....literally blown away and this one is no exception!
There is no way that I could've survived out in the prairie. My hats off to all of the pioneer men and women who braved the elements and were able to carve out a life for themselves in this harsh and
N. Sasson
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare books I couldn't wait to get back to each time I had to take a break from reading. Jeanie Arthur is a proud woman who has been forced to abandon a successful and comfortable life in Des Moines to start over in the Dakotas. Unfortunately, her husband Frank is more of a dreamer than a doer and Jeanie's frustrations mount as he repeatedly fails to be the reliable foundation that she so much needs in an unforgiving environment. The tragedies that afflict this family are pal ...more
Sharon Martin
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a book and what an absolute impact it had on me. A very moving and emotional read and I loved every minute of this wonderful and powerful story. This is the very first book I have read by Kathleen Shoop, I have read so many positive reviews on her writing skills that I really wanted to read one of her books and after reading the description I knew this was the one. This story had me hooked, took hold of me and transported me into the story and into the prairie life. I felt all the emotions ...more
Lilac Wolf
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! Seriously, go get a copy and read it. Shoot it's only 99cents as an e-book!

This story is AWESOME. Let's start at the beginning, the cover is very simple, with the young girl in a simple white dress on the prairie. The story itself has excellent flow and the words are woven so that I would at times forget I was reading and just see the story move through me.

There are 2 main characters in this book. Katherine, the daughter and Jeanie, her mother. It starts in Des Moines, Iowa in
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: Author
Shelves: 2011-reads
My Thoughts:
I was immediately drawn into this story and couldn't stop thinking about it until I turned the very last satisfying page. There were a few things that surprised me while reading this one.

I've been blown away by debut books this year....literally blown away and this one is no exception!
There is no way that I could've survived out in the prairie. My hats off to all of the pioneer men and women who braved the elements and were able to carve out a life for themselves in this harsh and
Lisa Ryan
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately excited about this book since I grew up with Little House on the Prairie. Although that was a tv show, living on the prairie wasn't so much fun. In fact, throughout the whole book, I can feel the pain and hardship with each page. I couldn't even imagine living in those days. The author did an outstanding job describing the harshness and darkness of prairie it could change in an instant. Destroying but then comforting.

Plus I just couldn't put the book down once I sta
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. A book about a strong woman who loved her children with all her heart, what a terrible turn her life took soo many different times. I don't understand all the choices she made but after all she had been through I'm not sure any of us could truly understand - I could not put this book down - got it CHEAP on my Nook - GREAT read, plesant surprise for the price!
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book!
Shari Larsen
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Katherine had been estranged from her mother Jeanie Arthur, for 17 years, until the day her mother showed up on her doorstep, with her Kathrine's younger sister Yale, dying from cancer. Katherine is forced to relive and examine her past, the year they lived on the harsh prairie after the Arthur family had to leave Des Moines, Iowa, after a family scandal.

Jeanie tried her best to make a go of it, but betrayals, natural disasters, and death tore the family apart. Katherine blamed her mother for wh
Karen Hogan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is "Wow". Dont read this book if you're looking for something light-hearted. Do read this book if you want an emotional roller coaster ride. This is an amazing piece of historical fiction, supposedly based on the homesteading letters of the author's ancestor. Well, they say truth is stranger than fiction, and this work is a perfect example of that. Imagine being a well off, wife and mother, who through the fault of her opium eating father and worthless husband, finds herself destit ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pioneer
Frank and Jeanie Arthur try to settle on the plains in Dakota Territory after losing their property in Des Moines. Jeanie hates the soddie they are forced to live in. She also is pregnant and no longer in love with her husband who spends more time away than at home.
This is a character raised in the lap of luxury who is now trying to make a go of it in hard circumstances. Although she had neighbors to help they too suffer the disasters of the plains. jeanie is a character who alternates between
Ruth Hill
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, 2014-reads
First of all, this is a realistic historical fiction book, and I do wish to prepare anyone who tackles this book for plenty of tragedy. All too often, we glamorize the pioneer days. We think that every family somehow made it through the struggles with flying colors. Money may have been tight, but everything worked out like a "Little House on the Prairie" episode. History tells us that was not the case. Tragedy was always lurking closely to every family on the frontier just waiting to strike. Yes ...more
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: award-winners
This pioneer saga won the 2011 IPPY Award. Jeanne is a mother and writer of books on homemaking. Suddenly her family is disgraced through no fault of her own and her husband decides to seek anonymity and a new start in the Dakota territories. They live in an underground cave made of sod and suffer catastrophe, betrayal and death in the months to follow. Their few neighbors joined them in a co-op in hopes of sharing their individual talents and burdens to ensure survival of the whole, but nothing ...more
Caddy Rowland
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a solid story that kept my attention. I like to read about life on the prairie even though I'd hate to live like that. Definitely wouldn't have been one of the pioneers! Momma Jeanie and Katherine both appealed to me and I felt them come alive for me quickly. Jeanie's husband was a real piece of work. I felt sorry for her that she felt the need to put up with him.

The book surprised me in regard to what her husband did and what Jeanne in turn decided to do about Yale. Nice to be surpris
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book started out a little slow for me, it is a bit confusing in the beginning trying to follow the story. But once I got into it I couldn't put it down(it had a little mystery that I couldn't quite figure out)! Because of the setting of the 1800's in the Dakota Territory, there is lots of callamities. I am not sure I would have had the strength to live that life, it was a very difficult. I found myself questioning how much of who we are is actually because of our personality and how much of ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I almost gave this book five stars, settled on four, but could easily have been five, though four is a very good.

I really did enjoy. I'm a historical fiction lover, mainly because I can read fiction under the pretense of maybe learning something. This book depicts the extreme conditions and hardships of prairie life in the late 1800s, including the "School Children's Blizzard" of 1888. But more than that, it's the story of the complexities of the mother/ daughter relationship, as well as the mis
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one sitting. I was inlove with most of the characters and loved hating a few. I laughed, I cried, and the way the author gave such details I could almost feel the winter breezes. I was so sad to see this book end. I would love to see what happens next. The side story of the mother and daughter finding peace before it is too late just added to the drama. The tough choices this mother had to make through out this book are so heart breaking. The move from the city to the pionee ...more
Stacey Wright Aumock
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It took me awhile to get caught up in this book, but once I did I couldn't put it down!! In all honesty, I started reading this book when our air conditioner went out - I thought reading about prairie life would make my hot weekend more tolerable. ;). What I didn't expect was to fall in love with the characters, celebrating their joy and mourning their trials and losses. This is a book I will not soon forget!!
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Compelling story about a young mother struggling with tragedy and disappointment and her own sense of self. I would have given it a 3.5 because I enjoyed learning about the prairie during the late 19th century. Jeanie was doing the best she could in extremely difficult times. I was bothered by a few literary glitches -- too many commas and dropped words in the Kindle edition. Katherine's understanding of her mother was too instantaneous given the intensity of her negative feelings towards her.
..."The Last Letter is well-crafted in the time period and readers will find that the descriptions and storyline bring a sense of being immersed in the 19th Century Midwestern United States."...My full review may be read on my book review blog Rundpinne.
Jennifer Morefield
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good book about the trials of living on the prairie as a pioneering family. Occasionally, a bit slow. I found her husband to be completely irascible with absolutely no redeeming qualities. I found her to be perfect. This was also a bit annoying and unrealistic. This would be my only critique. A good story that I would recommend.
Wendy Curtis
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My friend wrote this book and I am so impressed by her! This is a great read - mostly about the adventures of a family that goes "homesteading" in the 1880's, but also about love, loss, sacrifice, and strength. I know it will stay with me for a long time.
Mary Beth
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

Life on the prairie in the late 1800's surely was not for the faint of heart. For me, when a book touches in my emotions, its a good book. This book brought out lots of emotions. I wanted to befriend Jeannie and strangle Frank. I highly recommend this book.
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing

One of the best books I've read in a while. Especially nice to read near Mother's day
Bonnie Gonzales
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't want this book to end when it did. There was so much saddness and troubled times and so much raw emotion, it was a good read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Women of the 1800s 2 8 Apr 19, 2013 01:00PM  
Reading comprehension & difficult circumstances 1 1 Aug 13, 2012 05:10PM  
Compare and Contrast 1 2 Aug 13, 2012 05:06PM  
Shame 1 4 Aug 13, 2012 05:03PM  
Strong Women in History 1 1 Aug 13, 2012 05:02PM  
Homesteading vs. modern times 1 2 Aug 13, 2012 04:58PM  
  • Beyond All Price
  • On Sparrow Hill
  • Far Away Home: An Historical Novel of the American West
  • Page From A Tennessee Journal
  • Beyond the Bougainvillea
  • Bridge to Happiness
  • Face the Winter Naked
  • Work for Hire
  • Destiny (Spirit of Union #1)
  • Sweetie
  • The Light Horseman's Daughter
  • Come Back to Me
  • Fifth Column
  • In Dog We Trust (Golden Retriever Mystery #1)
  • Finding Grace
  • Learning To Swim
  • Summer of Fire (Yellowstone, #1)
  • Ain't No Sunshine
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathl ...more
More about Kathleen Shoop...

Other Books in the Series

Letter (2 books)
  • The Road Home (The Letter #2)

Fiction Deals

  • War Brides
    $3.99 $2
  • Bluebeard
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad
    $10.74 $2.99
  • Orphan Train Girl
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Want Not
    $14.95 $2.99
  • Finding Rebecca
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Baker's Daughter
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Twelve-Mile Straight
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Cafe by the Sea
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Everybody's Son
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $2
  • The Word Game
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cats Are Weird: And More Observations
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Lace Makers of Glenmara
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Wake Up
    $4.99 $2
  • The Way to London: A Novel of World War II
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ask the Dust
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Saving Abby
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Vanessa and Her Sister
    $13.99 $2.99
  • The King's Mistress
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Midnight Sun (The Northern Lights Series, No 3)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cement Garden (Ian McEwan Series Book 2)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
    $14.95 $1.99
  • The Cove
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Jailbird
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
    $15.95 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fire by Night
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Chronicle in Stone
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Bagombo Snuff Box
    $8.99 $1.99
  • If I Was Your Girl
    $9.99 $2.99
“But, at that point, all Jeanie had was the will to construct a new life, even if that meant forcing intangible aspects of it into being, hoping that the act of pretending might bring forth reality.” 0 likes
More quotes…