Author Jonathan Hill has created in "Maureen" a character who is slightly larger than life and prone to social gaffs to the extent that “Hapless Maureen” has become the default position.
I'd already been with Maureen on her visit to Venice and to an Art Exhibition and was looking forward to reading about her exploits at her local Book Club in “A Letter for Maureen”. There's much more to the book than just the Book Club and I was certainly not disappointed; in fact I think this is the best story Jonathan Hill has written about Maureen so far.
“A Letter for Maureen” is much deeper than the other book and tackles some difficult issues relating to illness, ageing and death. That's not to suggest that the book is dark or depressing; it's not. It's very funny in places; it's unusual and original and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; it just had a bit more substance than the other 'Maureen' stories and benefited from that.
The characterisation is really good and all the supporting cast are well developed, engaging and interesting. In a relatively short book (18,000 words) you meet and remember the customers in the bakery, Maureen's neighbours, the Book Club members, Nigel the librarian, the residents of a nursing home and their carers, a theatre fan, a theatre audience and performers as well as Beryl and Roy the two other main characters. Each character gets a pen portrait that has been written with economy, style and wit.
This same economy of style is used for scene setting: just enough details to get you into the right place and then on with the story. Consequently you engage really well with the book and I read it straight through in one sitting. I've read it a second time actually and enjoyed it just as much so well done Mr Hill.