The Hatbox Letters by Beth Powning

The Hatbox Letters

byBeth Powning

Kobo ebook | February 5, 2010

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Beth Powning offers readers an unforgettable story of love, grief and renewal — both past and present — as well as her extraordinary perceptions of the natural world.

At the age of fifty-two, Kate Harding has hit a crossroads: the pain that overwhelmed her when her husband died suddenly from a heart attack the previous year hasn’t diminished, and she is at a loss as to how to go on with her life. Living alone in her large Victorian house, its emptiness magnified by memories of better days, Kate can only dream of a time when her grief will abate, at least enough to allow her to hope for change.

When Kate’s sister drops off nine antique hatboxes of papers recovered from Shepton, their grandparents’ eighteenth-century home in Connecticut, Kate isn’t sure she is ready to face the remnants of her family’s past. She’s having enough trouble going through Tom’s things. Soon, though, the smell of the hatboxes — of her grandparents’ musty attic, of old quilts and satin ribbons — begins to permeate the air in her home and “awakens a feeling in Kate that she remembers from childhood, composed of odd emotional strands: love, sorrow, pain, contentment.” As she slowly sorts through the letters, diaries and photographs, Kate begins to find some solace in the past, in her childhood memories of Shepton when every home was a comfort, every relationship untinged by pain. But the further she delves into her grandparents’ history, the more Kate realizes that her perfect world had its own dark side — an undercurrent of tragedy, personal loss and eternal grief.

Then an old acquaintance moves back to New Brunswick, and Kate begins to edge out of her solitude, surprising herself by accepting his invitation to dinner. Gregory and his wife were friends with Tom and Kate when the kids were young, a time of camping trips and days at the beach. But Gregory, now divorced, is also carrying the weight of grief, from the suicide of his son many years earlier. At first, Gregory represents a chance for Kate to capture some of the simple joy of her past, but when she realizes that Gregory is still living in it, his memories and pain warped into self-destructive anger, she knows she has to back away. And when Gregory’s determination to return to the way things were proves unshakeable, a new tragedy forces Kate to begin picking up the pieces of her shattered life.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Title:The Hatbox LettersFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:February 5, 2010Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307375528

ISBN - 13:9780307375520

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Appropriate title for sure. I absolutely loved the Sea Captain's Wife by this author and was excited to try another of her works. However, this is a very different sort of story....more like the reader is watching over the shoulder of a grieving person as she comes to grips with her loss. I did enjoy the fact that it dealt with ancestry and was in Canada, but found the descriptive passages and her thought processes a little too repetitive and monotonous.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reconnects one to family memories loved that it was set in Canada I really enjoyed this book. I loved that it made me think about family and genealogy ! The art form of writing letters is a real part of history that is a lost art. How much we learn from letters from the past. This is one book that has really stuck with me. I have read many books, given them away but this is one that will stay in my collection. I spent some time in the Maritimes and I loved that this novel was set there.
Date published: 2015-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book This book is a feast for the senses...especially if you're at all interested in discovering your ancestors' lives. If you also love the Maritimes, you'll relish the setting. Set in New Brunswick it tells the tale of one woman coming into her self-hood following her husband's death, and in discovering more about her grandparents through found letters. The book is very well written. Regardless of some of the reviews above, as an avid reader I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2011-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Makes you appreciate the people you love. This book was full of lush imagery that touches all five senses. While there wasn't really much of a plot, Kate's journey through grief was moving, raw, sensitive and, in the end, hopeful. I almost felt voyeuristic as I watched her struggle to redefine herself after her husband's death. I enjoyed this book a great deal.
Date published: 2009-08-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from She comes...she goes...she sits....she thinks... Too repetitive, too descriptive, too many uninteresting words. I read first 100 pages and decided to go no further.
Date published: 2008-02-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Yawn!!! I was bored to tears! I couldn't finish it! The author used too, too, too much description of everything. (Do I really care to read 3 paragraphs on the description of flowers??) There was not a lot of dialogue with any other characters, either. I'm moving on to a better book...
Date published: 2006-09-16