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Letters to the End of Love

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  38 reviews

In a coastal village in Cork in 1969, a Russian painter and his Irish novelist wife write letters to one another as they try to come to terms with a fatal illness.

On Australia's west coast in 2011, a bookseller writes to her estranged partner in an attempt to understand what has happened to their relationship.

In Bournemouth in
Paperback, 241 pages
Published April 2013 by University of Queensland Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  123 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Annabel Smith
This is one of the most beautiful and deeply moving books I have read in a long time.

The beauty of the writing calls to mind Michael Ondaatje's earlier works and Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces. The intensity of the passion made me think of a Jeanette Winterson book I read many years ago - perhaps 'Written on the Body'.

Having said that, Walker has a voice all her own. In fact, this novel, is polyphonic, in that it incorporates the voices of 5 characters through their letters to each other.

The thr
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Utterly heartbreaking. The most beautiful sustained piece of writing I've read in years. A miraculous understanding of the depths of old, ground-in love. You'll cry on the peak-hour train. OK, I did. ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was prompted to read this exquisite debut novel after it won the WA Premier’s Emerging Writers Award. I also met the author, the warm and wise Yvette Walker, at a small gathering she held to celebrate her win. Last year, after I'd read the rave reviews, I'd bought the book, but it had sat patiently by my bedside. I didn’t know what a gem I was missing out on …

The title of this book is so apt, the story being being told in epistolary form, and about loving relationships that are coming to or ha
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review appears at

Letters to the End of Love
by Yvette Walker
University of Queensland Press

I thought I would write this review in the form of a letter to Yvette. I hope she gets to read it.

Dear Yvette Walker,

You could just as easily have called your beautiful novel Letters to the End of Hate, because that is what it is. To me, your words have celebrated a place you love, and the things you love about people, and about being in love itself. I wanted to quote you to yo
Debbie Robson
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Letters to the End of Love of Love is a very unusual novel - three sets of letters running parallel. "In a coastal village in Cork in 1969, a Russian painter and his Irish novelist wife write letters to one another as they try to come to terms with a fatal illness. On Australia's west coast in 2011, a bookseller writes to her estranged partner in an attempt to understand what has happened to their relationship.In Bournemouth in 1948, a retired English doctor writes to the love of his life, a Ger ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book that will stay with me. The stories were touching and hopeful, even where death was involved.
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘I don’t know, these letter were supposed to be about you, and me, they were supposed to be my gift to you ..’

In this novel, told though a series of letters, Yvette Walker explores love and loss in the lives of three couples. While the letters come from different places and different times (Bournemouth in 1948, Cork in 1969, Perth in 2011) a form of love - past or present, ended, ending or continuous - is at the centre of each relationship.

In the Bournemouth letters, John (a retired English phys
Keryn Clark
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
As I was reading Letters to the End of Love I wondered what I might say to someone who I loved, or had loved, if I knew that love was nearing its end. How would I delve into the intimacy of coupledom and probe what another person meant to my life without recourse to sentimentality? There would be the fear of cliché and mush and the sneaking suspicion that I would embarrass myself. Luckily for us, Yvette Walker, in her debut epistolary novel, manages to explore love and passion in three different ...more
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Three great loves, three sexualities and three decades. All the wonder and pain of a relationship and it's conclusion in the form of letters from one beloved to another. The epistolary format allows segments flecked with images and shards of incredible beauty and pathos. A really lovely book - unmissable. ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks, books-of-2017
I don't even know where to begin with this book. I'm speechless. This book is gorgeous beyond words. It's heartbreaking and uplifting and beautiful and cruel and perfect and so, so fantastically flawed all in one. I didn't know I could feel so many emotions over the course of so few pages, but Yvette Walker has turned me into a weeping mess of a human being; after finishing the last chapter, I just sat and cried over the sheer beauty of this little book.

All three of the couples featured in this
Clare Sullivan
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was given this book by a former partner in 2014 - we separated later that year - perhaps he was trying to tell me something, or he didn't really know about what the book was really about.

I enjoyed it - I like books written in a letter format, I enjoyed the way the 3 separate stories with a slight link weaving together the 3 stories. An air of melancholy , beautiful to read.
As the title suggests, this novel consists of a collection of letters all dealing with some kind of loss. There are three main couples involved: In Cork (1969), a Russian painter and his novelist wife who must come to grips with a terminal illness; Perth in 2011 where a bookstore owner writes to her estranged partner trying to fathom what went wrong with their relationship; and Bournemouth in 1948 where a retired doctor writes to his partner who never made it through the war.

These three couples
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Letters to the End of Love is set in three different eras and three different countries with several correspondents describing their outer and inner worlds to their beloveds at the end or possible end of their relationships.
This beautifully written epistolary novel illustrates that most of what we appreciate and recall about love is in the ordinary and everyday life. This is, also where 'true art exists'. Two of the main characters are artists and a Kleen painting is the physical object that co
Graeme Aitken
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This impressive debut novel is from a Perth-based lesbian writer, who movingly unfolds three separate stories, through a series of letters. Three secrets, three relationships, and three different sexualities – straight, gay and lesbian – are explored. Cork, 1969; a Russian painter and his Irish novelist wife write letters to one another as they try to come to terms with the painter’s fatal illness. Perth, Australia, 2011: bookseller Grace writes nostalgic letters to her estranged lesbian partner ...more
Rachel Watts
Loosely tied together by threads of love, art and loss, the three stories are woven into a broader context of love that is permissible, love that is not allowed, romantic love, desire, platonic love, motherly love, sisterly love. And loss, so much loss. Is it possible to talk about love without loss? Do we really understand our love for another person before we confront its eventual end? Each of these relationships carry with their own risks. The brutal truth is that lives are lost over love. Th ...more
Michael Livingston
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A lovely meditation on love, in the form of letters between three couples from different eras and places. The structure took me a little while to settle into - a few tenuous links between the stories had me looking for deeper connections which weren't there - but I eventually realised that the three stories were only thematically linked. In each, people are facing the end of love - through illness, death or estrangement, and the letters they write to each other dig into their rich, messy, passio ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Although I am still reading this book (in my truly slow style) I am finding it to be an amazing read. I had not expected to enjoy it as much as I am. I usually avoid books about love or romance. But it so much more than that, a beautiful exploration of characters - far more than the two dimensional one that is so common.

Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was brilliant!
Rosetta Allan
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heart-wrenching intimacies of love and loss. Cleverly woven stories and a gorgeously written exploration of the delicacy of relationships. I took my time with this book and lingered on language that often surprised me, and the indulgences of love reflected and explored — a wonderful, beautiful book.
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian, freebies
“You wanted me to write to you because you were frightened. There were things between us that had been left unsaid, or forgotten in all of this time together. You wanted love letters.”

“Love letters. That’s what we’ll write. Not romance, not porn, but letters that talk about love as it is, in all its strangeness.”

‘Letters to the End of Love’ is a beautifully crafted epistolary novel by West Australian author Yvette Walker.
Three eras, three countries and three different couples, who exchange lette
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
When I first heard about the concept of this book (which was only a few days before I started reading it) I was intrigued. A novel comprised of three sets of love letters that chronicle the ends three very different relationships: a 1940's gay male relationship in Vienna ended by the loss of one partner in the war; a 1960's husband and wife in Cork sending each other love letters after one of them has developed a terminal illness; a modern day Perth lesbian sends letters to her jet-setting partn ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
What happens after the happily ever after of a marriage or relationship, asks debut writer Yvette Walker in her poignant first novel, Letters to the End of Love. Three different couples, a heterosexual, a gay and a lesbian relationship are given close scrutiny by Walker in her book. The stories and secrets of each couple unfolds in beautiful layers by an entirely epistolary format. The first couple is based in Cork, Ireland, 1969. An Irish Novelist and a Russian Painter use love letters as a veh ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aus-lit, the-women
Three sets of lives and letters (Cork 1969; Bournemouth 1948; Perth, 2011) intersect in this deeply moving novel that chronicles what happens when death closes in on one half of a happy marriage, when misunderstanding and grief threaten to upend the great love between two very different women and the absolute devastation Nazism wreaked on the lives of gay men.

The writing is unbelievably lovely.

This about marriage: "Vivienne laughed, and remarked on the strange, physical laws inherent in marriage
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be a challenge. The idea of a book comprised of love letters appealed to me but in reality I found the letters to be contrived for the reader rather than deeply emotional.

The letters are made up of 3 couples, 3 love stories and the only one I felt was believable was the Bournemouth part. All of these letters were from one man to his dead lover and I found the depth and detail depicted grief well. The memories and the dreams worked well as the letters were more of a memoir n
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this one up admiring the cover design looks like stamps and the thought of a story through letters, about love, intrigued me. I almost didn't want to read on as it was a bit sad at the beginning, but continued on. Later, I found there was more to the story, still sad part...a sort of dwelling on the sad turn of events that the characters hung on to.

I think it was also the style of writing that hooked me back into the novel. I knew someone awhile back from Australia who has a literary b
Writerful Books
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Letters to the End of Love is a beautifully written epistolary novel by Australian author, Yvette Walker. The stories are divided into the Cork Letters, Bournemouth Letters and Perth Letters. Each of the letters focus on the individual stories of three separate sets of couples spanning different decades and although unconnected each explore in different ways the universality of love and ultimately of loss.

Read the full review here

Yvette Walker kindly gave me a review copy of her book.
Lorraine Pestell
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, poignant and interesting masterpiece of a novel. Three sets of love letters gradually tell of three couples' love of their lives. Each set of letters has been written for a specific purpose, and the delightful prose in each is evocative of many different parts of the world, rich and cultured lives and highly personal emotions, all loosely strung together by a shoelace of a single painting. ...more
Charm White
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
A wonderful book to get me back into reading. The layout of the letters was well paced though I found myself wishing for one more round at the end. These characters have come to life for me. I want to sit and have tea with Caithleen and Grace.
Sue Gould
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved this book.....and will be looking out for more from this writer. I loved the language, and the beautiful balance between the ordinary, everyday details and the context of world events....especially poignant in the Bournemouth letters.
Renee Stokes
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although half the time I lost track of the minor characters and had a hard time remembering what was going on in the three separate relationships. I would have liked a bit more of a story as well, to keep things interesting.
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Yvette Walker is an Australian writer. Her first novel Letters to the End of Love was published by University of Queensland Press in April 2013. Letters To The End of Love was shortlisted for the 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards (Glenda Adams Award for New Writing). Yvette won a 2014 WA Premiers Book Award (Emerging WA Writer) for the novel. She is currently working on her second book. ...more

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