Letters to Julian
by Annette Louise Brown

"Passion, that's what's missing. Not living our lives for our heart's desire."

A series of letters addressed to an invisible muse, this 181-page book contains some 36 letters from Maggie Calahan, a divorced woman who writes her thoughts, desires, recollections, and dreams addressed to a man known only as Julian. Mostly a few pages long, many of the letters concern Maggie's memories of growing up in California, her subsequent marriage and divorce, and many digressions spanning a myriad of topics. Most concern romance, love, and marriage as well as the opposite side of the balance: being single, free, and independent. Somewhat like a grouping of diary entries, the collection of letters spans five months, from March to August in a single year. Maggie looks at her mother, father, and two siblings from a more adult perspective in these letters. She discusses her hopes, dreams, and disappointments with eloquent and introspective passages that tend to sound a little depressed. Her thirst for companionship is tempered by her appreciation for the unencumbered lifestyle that she has grown to love.

This is an interesting structure for a novel, with a first-person narrator addressing a series of heartfelt confessions mixed with hopes and regrets to a recipient who is not well defined. It is not exactly clear what kind of "love" Maggie feels for Julian. Is it semi-romantic or completely platonic, agape or eros?. The writer mentions a "lodge" several times in relation to the mysterious Julian, and some additional study of the text seems to imply that this was a Sierra Lodge in Mexico that Maggie had spent time at some years prior. But besides functioning vaguely as a suspense element, Julian's identity is unimportant. He is more accurately a muse. Through him, the author expresses her thoughts about relationships and meaning in a free and unrestrained manner. It is a unique memoir and one that is well told.

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