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A Letter in the Wall

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It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. Born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915 and raised with privilege and opportunity, Joan wrestles with her turbulent tho It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. Born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915 and raised with privilege and opportunity, Joan wrestles with her turbulent thoughts and unfulfilled desires—an internal battle that often results in self-destructive tendencies. When she attempts to push against the norms for women of her time in order to forge her own identity, she is met with resistance. Yet she might also be her own worst enemy, often alienating those who care deeply for her. Both manipulative and vulnerable, naive and conniving, Joan is, like many people, complex and misunderstood. Inspired by a letter written by the real Joan, found hidden in the wall of a Pennsylvania home more than half a century later, this story is a fictionalized imagining of who she was and what motivated her. Moving through several decades and events—from the 1918 influenza pandemic to Prohibition to the Great Depression to Vietnam—A Letter in the Wall examines the internal and external factors that influence one woman’s journey toward independence and empowerment.


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It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. Born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915 and raised with privilege and opportunity, Joan wrestles with her turbulent tho It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. Born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915 and raised with privilege and opportunity, Joan wrestles with her turbulent thoughts and unfulfilled desires—an internal battle that often results in self-destructive tendencies. When she attempts to push against the norms for women of her time in order to forge her own identity, she is met with resistance. Yet she might also be her own worst enemy, often alienating those who care deeply for her. Both manipulative and vulnerable, naive and conniving, Joan is, like many people, complex and misunderstood. Inspired by a letter written by the real Joan, found hidden in the wall of a Pennsylvania home more than half a century later, this story is a fictionalized imagining of who she was and what motivated her. Moving through several decades and events—from the 1918 influenza pandemic to Prohibition to the Great Depression to Vietnam—A Letter in the Wall examines the internal and external factors that influence one woman’s journey toward independence and empowerment.

30 review for A Letter in the Wall

  1. 4 out of 5

    Val

    My thanks [email protected], as well as to @NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of A Letter in the Wall. 3.5 Stars I love that the inspiration for this book came about when the author actually found a letter in the bedroom wall of the house she lived in in 2007! As she started her search for who Joan was, she was unable to find out much more than the fact that she had been raised a Quaker, had been married three times, had had four children, and that she had been murdered i My thanks [email protected], as well as to @NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of A Letter in the Wall. 3.5 Stars I love that the inspiration for this book came about when the author actually found a letter in the bedroom wall of the house she lived in in 2007! As she started her search for who Joan was, she was unable to find out much more than the fact that she had been raised a Quaker, had been married three times, had had four children, and that she had been murdered in 1971. From there, the author used her imagination and filled in Joan's story, herself. A Letter in the Wall goes through multiple time periods: From the 1918 influenza, to Prohibition, to the Great Depression, and even to Vietnam. Through it all, Joan wrestles with her turbulent thoughts and unfulfilled desires—an internal battle that often results in self-destructive tendencies. I very much enjoyed reading this book even though Joan wasn't always likable. Today she would be diagnosed with depression (at the very least). I struggled a bit with her drama. I thought the author did a great job and I hope this won't be her last book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karla Huebner

    Back in 2007, Eileen Brill discovered an old, unsent letter hidden in the wall of her house. This unexpected find piqued her interest and launched her into researching the writer, which ultimately led to the writing of this novel. Because, as Brill explains in an afterword, while it was possible to learn a certain amount of factual information about the writer and her family, it wasn't possible to know what feelings motivated her. This, then, is the richly imagined story of Joan Dumann, from the Back in 2007, Eileen Brill discovered an old, unsent letter hidden in the wall of her house. This unexpected find piqued her interest and launched her into researching the writer, which ultimately led to the writing of this novel. Because, as Brill explains in an afterword, while it was possible to learn a certain amount of factual information about the writer and her family, it wasn't possible to know what feelings motivated her. This, then, is the richly imagined story of Joan Dumann, from the moment in her early childhood when her beloved mother, dying in the 1918 flu pandemic, seems to abandon her and continuing on to Joan's own shocking death in 1971. We see the development of an intelligent but resentful and often undisciplined girl from a Quaker family, who longs for a career in business which is mostly denied her as she navigates her often headstrong way through marriages and childrearing. Joan both charms and alienates those around her, which ultimately leads to her downfall. The reader simultaneously wishes her well and is dismayed by her often poor decisions, and wonders whether her life would have been different had she sent the letter in the wall and/or various other unsent later letters. And if her first husband had encouraged her to remain active in the family business after the birth of their daughter, would their marriage have succeeded? I was impressed with the quality of the characterization throughout the novel, as well as with the intricacy of the web of business dealings that Joan enmeshes herself in at the end of her life. I received an ARC through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    Sometimes when you know the story behind the story, it makes it come alive. This was certainly the case for me when I heard Eileen Brill explain that she had found an old unmailed letter in her home. After doing some research, she discovered that the woman, Joan, who wrote it, was murdered in 1971. With not many facts to go on, Eileen Brill built a fascinating coming-of-age story for Joan. Joan’s mother died in 1919 during the influenza epidemic, yet she grew up in a privileged Quaker family. Jo Sometimes when you know the story behind the story, it makes it come alive. This was certainly the case for me when I heard Eileen Brill explain that she had found an old unmailed letter in her home. After doing some research, she discovered that the woman, Joan, who wrote it, was murdered in 1971. With not many facts to go on, Eileen Brill built a fascinating coming-of-age story for Joan. Joan’s mother died in 1919 during the influenza epidemic, yet she grew up in a privileged Quaker family. Joan is a determined young girl, and, when married, Joan wants to be seen as an equal in their business. Things switch when Joan has a baby and decides to stay at home. She feels lonely and less connected, and she makes choices that set her down a volatile path. I couldn’t decide if I liked Joan or not; her character is complex, but she could be conniving and pushy, yet other times I felt bad for her. I did enjoy all the historical signposts, and I love how Joan’s journey reminds us that our decisions can have far-reaching consequences. Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours and @getredprbooks for a spot on tour and a gifted copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dawnny

    This story was inspired by a letter the author found in a wall written by a woman named Joan. I loved that the author created this story from the very little facts she was able to find out and then created the rest. An engrossing story of a woman born in 1915 who was privileged but pushed the boundaries of society, family and friends during a time when women didn't have a voice or many choices. This was an amazing historical read. I enjoyed every bit of it. Dawnny Ruby Novels N Latte Hudson Valle This story was inspired by a letter the author found in a wall written by a woman named Joan. I loved that the author created this story from the very little facts she was able to find out and then created the rest. An engrossing story of a woman born in 1915 who was privileged but pushed the boundaries of society, family and friends during a time when women didn't have a voice or many choices. This was an amazing historical read. I enjoyed every bit of it. Dawnny Ruby Novels N Latte Hudson Valley NY

  5. 5 out of 5

    Annie McDonnell

    Genius! Eileen Brill brings us the “Letter in the Wall” scenario, only it’s a coming of age story about a thickly rich woman with a lot of layers to peel away as we turn thepages. I was in love with the sheer magnitude of character unfolding.Joan was so real in her imperfection. We are whisked through history through Joan’s view. I’m enamored!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janet | purrfectpages

    A Letter in the Wall’s story starts in 1971, introducing us to Joann Dumann, a fifty-something year old woman who believes she’s reflecting on her life on the eve of her death. As the drama unfolds, we come to understand the long, complicated history that has brought Joann to this point. Spanning over fifty years, A Letter in the Wall tells the story of Joann’s metamorphosis. From awkward teen, to unfulfilled housewife and mother, culminating in a fiercely determined business woman, Joann is cons A Letter in the Wall’s story starts in 1971, introducing us to Joann Dumann, a fifty-something year old woman who believes she’s reflecting on her life on the eve of her death. As the drama unfolds, we come to understand the long, complicated history that has brought Joann to this point. Spanning over fifty years, A Letter in the Wall tells the story of Joann’s metamorphosis. From awkward teen, to unfulfilled housewife and mother, culminating in a fiercely determined business woman, Joann is consistently painted as a woman seeking more out of life. Though inspired by a letter written by a real woman, found hidden in the wall of a house, the story itself is a work of fiction. However, since this novel spans so many years, it touches upon many real life events and evolutions- many of which are reflected through the eyes of Joann, a woman who dared to want for more in a time when woman were not encouraged to do so. Depicted as somewhat selfish and self centered, Joann is a hard woman to love, but she is also a realistic representation of women in her generation, torn between society’s expectations and the expectations they have for themselves. I enjoy stories where the main characters are flawed and layered, so Joann’s journey was riveting for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (Nissa_the.bookworm)

    Thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and @eileengracebrill for having me on this tour of A Letter in the Wall! A Letter in the Wall is a story of a woman who was born in the wrong time period. It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann is afraid she’s going to be murdered by her former business partner. As she sits down to write a letter to the chief of police, Joan wonders just what brought her to this point. As we go back to where it all began with Joan, we see a young woman who suffered great loss at a young a Thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and @eileengracebrill for having me on this tour of A Letter in the Wall! A Letter in the Wall is a story of a woman who was born in the wrong time period. It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann is afraid she’s going to be murdered by her former business partner. As she sits down to write a letter to the chief of police, Joan wonders just what brought her to this point. As we go back to where it all began with Joan, we see a young woman who suffered great loss at a young age, who wanted to be more than just a housewife raising children. Joan had big dreams, and she was determined to see them through. I really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and it was refreshing to see a character like Joan. She reminded me a bit of myself. She was not content with her status in life and often misunderstood. I don’t agree with all of the actions she took in her life, but she was strong and knew what she wanted. I also loved how this book really made me reflect on my own life. Joan made a lot of mistakes that she had to live with, and every person has done this. I know I have! The ending wrapped everything up perfectly, when the author describes the butterfly effect: how Joan’s life could have been so different if she’d done this rather than that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miss W Book Reviews

    A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill is a captivating story that left me wanting to find a letter in my wall! The main character in this book is Joan and the book has a timeline from 1918 to the 1970's. This is a historical fiction based on the real events of the author Eileen who does indeed find a letter in her wall. I appreciated the author note that stated this was the inspiration for Joan's story. Joan is a complicated, complex and flawed character who seemed to want more from her life. I w A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill is a captivating story that left me wanting to find a letter in my wall! The main character in this book is Joan and the book has a timeline from 1918 to the 1970's. This is a historical fiction based on the real events of the author Eileen who does indeed find a letter in her wall. I appreciated the author note that stated this was the inspiration for Joan's story. Joan is a complicated, complex and flawed character who seemed to want more from her life. I would describe her as manipulative and always plotting her next move. The history spanned so many different events in the US it was very interesting. The 1918 Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and Vietnam it was exciting to read these events through Joan's perspective. There is a bit of a mystery here as Joan thinks that someone wants her dead. I won't give away too many details about that though. I enjoyed this book, it was a very unique premise. I look forward to more books by this author.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Morgan

    Cleverly crafted historical fiction. It's June, 1971 and Joan writes a letter 'in case she doesn't live to see tomorrow.' Writing the letter causes her to contemplate her life. Joan was born in 1915 into a prominent Quaker family. Growing up she never felt confident but when she did she was always faced with resistance which added to her low self esteem. She wanted to be here own woman in charge of her life and making decisions on her own. When she meets a man who listens to her and gives her a p Cleverly crafted historical fiction. It's June, 1971 and Joan writes a letter 'in case she doesn't live to see tomorrow.' Writing the letter causes her to contemplate her life. Joan was born in 1915 into a prominent Quaker family. Growing up she never felt confident but when she did she was always faced with resistance which added to her low self esteem. She wanted to be here own woman in charge of her life and making decisions on her own. When she meets a man who listens to her and gives her a position at his family owned business she finally feels she's on the right track. Then she has a baby and becomes stuck at home raising her daughter while her husband is always working late to make ends meet. The feelings of inadequacy return and Joan starts on a path of bad decisions and misguided actions. The story follows Joan through time, from the Spanish Flu epidemic to the Vietnam war. In that time period she manages to get married three times and have four children. All the while, and even though she is living a privileged life, Joan is never settled, she always wants more than what was available to women at the time. Although Joan was sometimes an unlikable character, through the story telling I always had empathy (sympathy?) for her. Even while frustrated by her decisions and actions I was able to relate to her struggles. The descriptive writing put me there in the scenes with her observing the action while also being in her head as she navigates life. Overall, I enjoyed the journey and the ending left me satisfied. The authors notes at the end add depth to the story as she reveals what led her to write it. It might even help to read these notes first. Thank you to the author, SparkPress, GetRed PR and Suzy Approved Book Tours for the gifted ARC and including me on this tour.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bowe

    Eileen wrote this story after finding a non-mailed letter in the wall of her home from a Joan Dumann. She researched as much as she could but didn't find a lot on Joan, so she made this story of what she might have been like until the year 1971 - the year of Joan's murder. Now, at times while reading, I felt bad for Joan's character but then I always remembered that Joan kind of brought all the things that happened to her on herself. She would make wild decisions, oftentimes without consulting th Eileen wrote this story after finding a non-mailed letter in the wall of her home from a Joan Dumann. She researched as much as she could but didn't find a lot on Joan, so she made this story of what she might have been like until the year 1971 - the year of Joan's murder. Now, at times while reading, I felt bad for Joan's character but then I always remembered that Joan kind of brought all the things that happened to her on herself. She would make wild decisions, oftentimes without consulting those that it would affect, But I believed that she always believed she was making the right choices. I felt the second half of the book, I was more into than the first half but I'm glad to have stuck with it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Judith Teitelman

    What could be more enticing than discovering a letter never sent and long hidden? Such is the spark for Eileen Brill’s debut novel, A Letter in the Wall. This well crafted story captures the life of an emotionally wounded, often calculating woman in her search for self-worth, respect, and fulfillment. It is a page turner not to be missed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Joan is a young Quaker that belongs to a rather prominent family in 1920s Pennsylvania. She is a frustrated and intelligent girl that has been greatly affected by her mother’s death during the 1918 Influenza pandemic. It is during a stay at summer camp that Joan meets a boy from New Jersey that she feels a connection with. When these feelings are not quite reciprocated, she writes a letter that she stashes away and never mails. Time passes and Joan meets and marries a kind man that has inherited Joan is a young Quaker that belongs to a rather prominent family in 1920s Pennsylvania. She is a frustrated and intelligent girl that has been greatly affected by her mother’s death during the 1918 Influenza pandemic. It is during a stay at summer camp that Joan meets a boy from New Jersey that she feels a connection with. When these feelings are not quite reciprocated, she writes a letter that she stashes away and never mails. Time passes and Joan meets and marries a kind man that has inherited his family’s furniture business. Their relationship is built on husband and wife working that family business together; where Joan feels a sense of value. When Joan gives birth to their daughter Barbara, she no longer remains part of the business and begins to feel isolated and under-valued as a stay at home mother. She yearns for a career and separate identity outside of the home. It is from this isolation and frustration that many self-destructive choices are made. Much of Joan’s story is in the consequences of those choices and their affect on her relationships. I enjoyed the author’s creativity. A Letter in the Wall is a historical fiction novel that was inspired by a letter found by the author in the walls of her home. Eileen Brill weaves the few pieces of fact we know about Joan’s life with her imagination to create a novel about a woman’s life that spans from 1915 to the 1970s. Through Joan, the reader experiences the effect of many moments from history such as the Flu Pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War. We also see a woman that feels frustrated and trapped in the social position of her gender. I was able to sympathize with Joan when she felt the weight of postpartum depression. But it was also difficult to invest in a character that was constantly making decisions that greatly affected others as well as herself. Joan may have been a complicated woman, but she was not likable. It was particularly frustrating to watch her parent her children. I can understand and remain sympathetic to depression, but it’s hard to experience so much resentment towards her children. For readers that enjoy attachment to their characters this may be difficult. But Brill’s writing, creativity, and character development should not be overlooked. Thank you for the opportunity to read this novel. I greatly appreciate the author, publisher and NetGalley allowing me to do so.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Shook

    I loved that this story stemmed from a letter that the author found in her own home. When she found it and discovered that the writer, jJoan, had been murdered she knew there must be a story there. Unable to find much about Jona’s life Eileen Brill made a character that she imagined Joan would have lived from childhood to death. Joan’s mother died when Joan was just a small child. Her father Marcus left most of the child rearing to his sister, Helen. Helen treated Joan well enough and her daughte I loved that this story stemmed from a letter that the author found in her own home. When she found it and discovered that the writer, jJoan, had been murdered she knew there must be a story there. Unable to find much about Jona’s life Eileen Brill made a character that she imagined Joan would have lived from childhood to death. Joan’s mother died when Joan was just a small child. Her father Marcus left most of the child rearing to his sister, Helen. Helen treated Joan well enough and her daughter, Mary was like an older sister to Joan but she always felt on the outside of the family. She was curious about love and didn’t really have anyone to help her nurture a healthy relationship. When she was a young adult she found she really enjoyed working at a furniture store in the city. She worked with a young man named Franklin and after a few years of dating they married as soon as she finished high school. She was thrilled at the aspect of working in the store but motherhood was thrust upon her at a young age and she was resentful that it took away her freedom to work outside the home. Franklin was very controlling and didn’t want her to pursue other interests than keeping the home and child rearing. Joan acted out and found solace in the arms of another man, the wrong man. Marriage didn’t take hold for Joan until her third marriage. She found a wonderful man who “could siphon out her goodness”. Unfortunately, she did not always treat her third husband, Kyle, well. She often was erratic and immature where her family was concerned. One thing that remained a constant was her need to be more than just a homemaker and mother. When Kyle passed Joan saw it as an opportunity to make a career for herself. Unfortunately the person she decided to do go into business with was very unsavory and led to an untimely demise. My thoughts: This book was so engaging. I was struck with what Brille said that sometimes the least interesting stories are about unremarkable people on the surface. That was definitely the case with this book. It wasn’t the most interesting events taking place cut Brill’s story telling pulled you into Joan’s life. I couldn’t put the book down. I didn’t even like Joan through most of the book but was compelled to read her story! In my mind that is the mark of an excellent author! I highly recommend this contemporary fiction!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janell Madison

    A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill "Author Eileen Brill has created a character who you will like, question, not like, want to yell at, and finally feel bad for. Joan is like a friend that seems to keep making bad choices. Well-written, interesting, and a story about choices."-Books and Pens on Green Gables Do you ever look back at your life and wonder if you had taken a different path, where you would be today? That's what A Letter in the Wall is all about. If Joan had mailed the letter after su A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill "Author Eileen Brill has created a character who you will like, question, not like, want to yell at, and finally feel bad for. Joan is like a friend that seems to keep making bad choices. Well-written, interesting, and a story about choices."-Books and Pens on Green Gables Do you ever look back at your life and wonder if you had taken a different path, where you would be today? That's what A Letter in the Wall is all about. If Joan had mailed the letter after summer camp. If she hadn't been in a rush to get married. If she had not invited a guest into their home. If she had paid more attention. If she had listened more. How could Joan's life have been different? It seems she was always searching to be happy. Did she ever find happiness? A great book. You'll have LOTS of feelings about the main character, Joan, and the choices she makes! Available now! Here's the blurb: It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. Born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915 and raised with privilege and opportunity, Joan wrestles with her turbulent thoughts and unfulfilled desires—an internal battle that often results in self-destructive tendencies. When she attempts to push against the norms for women of her time in order to forge her own identity, she is met with resistance. Yet she might also be her own worst enemy, often alienating those who care deeply for her. Both manipulative and vulnerable, naive and conniving, Joan is, like many people, complex and misunderstood. Inspired by a letter written by the real Joan, found hidden in the wall of a Pennsylvania home more than half a century later, this story is a fictionalized imagining of who she was and what motivated her. Moving through several decades and events—from the 1918 influenza pandemic to Prohibition to the Great Depression to Vietnam—A Letter in the Wall examines the internal and external factors that influence one woman’s journey toward independence and empowerment.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Bennett

    Based on a real letter discovered in a wall in a Pennsylvania home, Eileen Brill creates a back story for Joan, the author of the letter. 1971: Joan fears for her life. Her shady business partner does not look kindly to what he deems as Joan’s meddling. He sees her purely as a revenue source, a silent partner. Joan on the other hand is tired of hiding behind a man, and is ready to make decisions financial and otherwise without approval first. This forward thinking does not sit well with her partn Based on a real letter discovered in a wall in a Pennsylvania home, Eileen Brill creates a back story for Joan, the author of the letter. 1971: Joan fears for her life. Her shady business partner does not look kindly to what he deems as Joan’s meddling. He sees her purely as a revenue source, a silent partner. Joan on the other hand is tired of hiding behind a man, and is ready to make decisions financial and otherwise without approval first. This forward thinking does not sit well with her partner. As she hears a pounding at her door she frantically writes about the trouble she seems to have gotten herself into in case she turns up dead. She wants everyone to know it was murder. Raised in an affluent Quaker household, Joan never quite fit in. She had a strained relationship with her father, constantly striving for his approval, which dictated several decisions she made throughout her life. She married the man her father would approve of, and found life as a stay at home mother lacking. Extra marital affairs seemed to be a problem, again seeking some sort of satisfaction she could never quite find from the current life she lived. Finally she found some stability in Kyle Dunmann, but when he passes she is back to her self destructive ways. I had trouble staying interested in this novel, as Joan was not a particularly likable character. The way she treated her children made me cringe. She obviously struggled with postpartum depression, which I was sympathetic to, but her inability to respect the sanctity of marriage frustrated me. She was impulsive and reactive to every problem in her path regardless of how it affected others, but she wasn’t so awful as to be villainous. She was a complex character for sure, but I struggled to care when she made so many poor choices that didn’t just affect her, but also her children. Thank you to NetGalley, Sparkpress, and of course Eileen Brill for the advanced copy. A Letter in the Wall comes out on May 24th. All opinions are my own. Http://www.instagram.com/passionforprose

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ferne

    Historical fiction inspired by a letter found in the bedroom wall of the author’s home in 2007. Researching the name on the personalized stationery led to learning that the letter from Joan Dumann written as a teenager living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a boy in New Jersey was never mailed. In researching Joan’s life the author has crafted a compelling story of how Joan’s life might have transpired piecing together facts with creativity to lead the reader into the drama of one woman’s life Historical fiction inspired by a letter found in the bedroom wall of the author’s home in 2007. Researching the name on the personalized stationery led to learning that the letter from Joan Dumann written as a teenager living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a boy in New Jersey was never mailed. In researching Joan’s life the author has crafted a compelling story of how Joan’s life might have transpired piecing together facts with creativity to lead the reader into the drama of one woman’s life journey. Joan was born in 1915 to a prominent Quaker family and her life transpired through memorable times in history from an influenza pandemic to Prohibition to the Great Depression to the Vietnam era. Marrying a husband that inherited a family furniture business, Joan delighted in helping her husband with the business and in her eyes was an equal partner. With the birth of her first child she became a stay-at-home mother and felt the isolation in the loss of adult contact and connections as well as the loss of her husband’s confidences in sharing business conversations. Joan began to make choices that quickly became a pattern for the rest of her life. A portrayal of the societal norms of the day through transitional and transformational periods of American history, family expectations based on religion and societal influences of social class, and a woman’s desire to achieve and contribute in business. It is a stark and dramatic reminder that decisions made along one’s life journey sometimes have long-reaching and unanticipated consequences. Many will judge choices made and sometimes only a few will understand. It also illuminates that a fulfilling life is different for each person. My sincere thanks to Eileen Brill, and SparkPress for my complimentary digital copy of this title, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. #aletterinthewalleileenbrillbooks #NetGalley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chelsie

    This novel follows Joan through the decades of her life, born in 1915 she saw a lot of changes in the United States. War, Spanish Flu, prohibition, Great Depression, WWII, the changes of women in the workforce, and yet another war in Vietnam. Women, families and the workforce had many changes because of these historical events and Joan was one to get what she wanted in life. Joan is very much a character that you have a love, hate, and sometimes feel you have a bit of an understanding of. This w This novel follows Joan through the decades of her life, born in 1915 she saw a lot of changes in the United States. War, Spanish Flu, prohibition, Great Depression, WWII, the changes of women in the workforce, and yet another war in Vietnam. Women, families and the workforce had many changes because of these historical events and Joan was one to get what she wanted in life. Joan is very much a character that you have a love, hate, and sometimes feel you have a bit of an understanding of. This was before postpartum depression really started to be understood and ok for women, as well as women being at the forefront the workforce let alone a company. But Joan was not one to be told no, or that she couldn't do something and this often caused Joan to make hasty decisions regarding her life. Not one to be told what to do, often she did not heed advise or suggestions from her children and this played into lots of things in her life. Having had a few marriages and a few children, Joan often had the envy of others but soon she would want more or want different and the husbands and the kids typically ended up hurt in the end. Joan at times meant well but it did not come across that way, she was seen as someone who would do what it took to get what she wanted and in the end none of that mattered. I like that this character lived through a lot of the big historical events in the last century in the US and that it was based somewhat on a true person. Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours for the invite and the author for the free novel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Lynn

    3.5 stars I was intrigued at the idea that this book would span such a large timeframe. I wanted to learn about the history that Joan lives through and learn what life was like during all that time. The book did not share as much history as I would have liked but I was in awe of the strength that Joan showed in having to keep moving forward for the good of her family. She has hiccup after hiccup in her life. It seems that just as life starts going her way something would happen to throw her off 3.5 stars I was intrigued at the idea that this book would span such a large timeframe. I wanted to learn about the history that Joan lives through and learn what life was like during all that time. The book did not share as much history as I would have liked but I was in awe of the strength that Joan showed in having to keep moving forward for the good of her family. She has hiccup after hiccup in her life. It seems that just as life starts going her way something would happen to throw her off and she would have to find her way back to the path of happiness. I enjoyed that she never gave up, she worked hard, she kept her kids a priority and did what she had to. Joan was not a likable character, but she was a character that I was hoping the best for. From a young age, she always felt like she lacked something, that she was always in the shadows of someone else, and I feel like she never got over that. She was always looking for the next best thing, the next thing to make her be someone, and that always led her to trouble. She was a schemer, and those schemes did not work the way that she hoped. I love that it was based on a real letter found in the wall of a house. The events that happen in this story were what Joan lived through.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Perry

    I received this an ARC through Netgalley. A Letter in the Wall is a work of fiction inspired by the real life of Joan Dumann. The author Eileen Brill, really did find a letter in her wall addressed to Norman from Joan. Joan does not have the easiest start to her life. Her mother dies of the Spanish Flu and her father moves them into a house with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Joan never feels like she fits in and is accepted for who she is, always living in the shadow of her cousin Mary and never I received this an ARC through Netgalley. A Letter in the Wall is a work of fiction inspired by the real life of Joan Dumann. The author Eileen Brill, really did find a letter in her wall addressed to Norman from Joan. Joan does not have the easiest start to her life. Her mother dies of the Spanish Flu and her father moves them into a house with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Joan never feels like she fits in and is accepted for who she is, always living in the shadow of her cousin Mary and never really getting her father's approval. This all starts the path that Joan finds her life on for the rest of her life. Joan's life as a younger mother I believe reflects more women out there than many would think. Trying to find yourself, trying to win approval from parental figures, being the "good girl" but never really feeling like it. Getting into a marriage believing it is what will save you from your current circumstances only to put you in different ones, not always better. A Letter in the Wall does an excellent job exploring the limited opportunities available to women in the early to mid 1900's.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jodie (Geauxgetlit)

    𝘈 𝘓𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘢𝘭𝘭 releasing on May 24, 2022 is the the Debut novel of Eileen Brill. ⠀ The author was inspired in writing this book in 2007, when she found a letter in the wall written in another time and the story of Joan begins. Written throughout most of the 20th century, Joan was the misunderstood “hysterical” woman at that time when emotions were never to be shown. ⠀ It’s 1971, and Joan fears her former business partner wants her dead—but she’s more upset about being disrespected than scared 𝘈 𝘓𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘢𝘭𝘭 releasing on May 24, 2022 is the the Debut novel of Eileen Brill. ⠀ The author was inspired in writing this book in 2007, when she found a letter in the wall written in another time and the story of Joan begins. Written throughout most of the 20th century, Joan was the misunderstood “hysterical” woman at that time when emotions were never to be shown. ⠀ It’s 1971, and Joan fears her former business partner wants her dead—but she’s more upset about being disrespected than scared of dying. Joan, who was born into a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker family in 1915,reflects on the circumstances that led to her predicament in this fascinating novel that spans from the 1918 influenza pandemic to Prohibition to Vietnam. ⠀ Throughout the book, Joan challenges the norms of women at the time, often resulting in self-destructive tendencies. Ultimately, she must face her past and the decisions she has made to become the woman she wants to be. ⠀ A great historical fiction debut with a side of murder that kept me turning the pages! ⠀ Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours @eileengracebrill for the gifted book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denise A

    ​What I find so fascinating about this book is that the author, Eileen Brill, by simply finding a letter in a wall, with a little research and a lot of imagination, has woven a tale for us about this complex but not only always likable woman. In the first paragraph Eileen was able to convey to me just what kind of woman Joan Dumann was in 1971 by the simple sentence, “She reached into the drawer for her Mont Blanc pen.” I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction, but what made this book especial ​What I find so fascinating about this book is that the author, Eileen Brill, by simply finding a letter in a wall, with a little research and a lot of imagination, has woven a tale for us about this complex but not only always likable woman. In the first paragraph Eileen was able to convey to me just what kind of woman Joan Dumann was in 1971 by the simple sentence, “She reached into the drawer for her Mont Blanc pen.” I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction, but what made this book especially fun for me, as a native Philadelphian, was that much of it quite literally took place in my own backyard! I enjoyed her descriptions and attention to the details of the period and the places Joan would travel. As I said before, I wasn’t always sure that I liked Joan, but Eileen brought her to life for me; with all her imperfections and vulnerabilities. In the end, she was a woman to be admired for her strength and persistence. I highly recommend picking up your own copy of The Letter in the Wall.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christina Faris

    Joan Dumann fears for her life after her former business threatens her. In an effort to tell her side of the story, she writes down everything. Revisiting her past provides a look into the life of this interesting woman. I really enjoyed this story! It spans over several decades of Joan’s life. As a young girl and new mother, she often felt overwhelmed and like she had lost her own identity. I can relate a lot to this as a mom myself. She wanted more out of life, but at the time she was living in Joan Dumann fears for her life after her former business threatens her. In an effort to tell her side of the story, she writes down everything. Revisiting her past provides a look into the life of this interesting woman. I really enjoyed this story! It spans over several decades of Joan’s life. As a young girl and new mother, she often felt overwhelmed and like she had lost her own identity. I can relate a lot to this as a mom myself. She wanted more out of life, but at the time she was living in, women didn’t have many opportunities. It was frustrating to see her have to ask for permission from her husband, and I was happy to see her have some opportunities later in life (without giving too many spoilers). Joan was far from perfect and seeing her failures and flaws made this story very full-circle. Also, I loved the author’s note at the end, telling how she herself found a letter in the wall and that was the impetus for this story! Thank you to Eileen Brill and Getredpr for the ARC! This review will be shared to my Instagram blog (@books_by_the_bottle) shortly 🙂

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dive Into A Good Book

    I am still trying to decide how I feel about this book. It is extremely well written; the characters are well formed and add to the storyline. The birth of the entire book I absolutely adore. Eileen Brill finds a letter in the wall of her home. Brill does a deep dive into who the person is who wrote the letter. She uncovers a little information and draws from this inspiration to write an entire book. I find that so amazingly cool! The story sweeps you in and takes hold. Joan Dumann lost her moth I am still trying to decide how I feel about this book. It is extremely well written; the characters are well formed and add to the storyline. The birth of the entire book I absolutely adore. Eileen Brill finds a letter in the wall of her home. Brill does a deep dive into who the person is who wrote the letter. She uncovers a little information and draws from this inspiration to write an entire book. I find that so amazingly cool! The story sweeps you in and takes hold. Joan Dumann lost her mother at an early age, which shapes her entire outlook on how she will lead her life. She and her father move in with family after the tragic death and she takes a back seat to her cousins. Always in the background, she needs to come out of the shadows in any way she can to gain a sense of self. As Joan's layers are peeled back and you witness her becoming an extremely manipulative woman. One who is selfish and does not seem to care who she takes down, if you are in her way of something she wants. Even her own children. She wants what she wants, and she will have it at any cost. Brill does a phenomenal job of writing a manipulative, hateful character. Who is so complex and layered you become addicted and absorbed into this destructive lifestyle. Will Joan be able to change her ways in time to save her family and herself? I found myself hating Joan. She drove me insane with her actions and how much she undermined everyone. Thank you to Eileen Brill, Get Red PR, and Spark Press for sending me this deeply layered mystery.

  24. 4 out of 5

    The Page Ladies

    Book Review…A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. A Letter in the Wall is based on a letter written by the real Joan that was found in the Wall of a Pennsylvania home more than half a century later. I was able to hear the author speak about this book. The way she Book Review…A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill It’s 1971, and Joan Dumann fears her former business partner wants her dead—but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected and invalidated. As she constructs a letter about her predicament, she revisits her past. A Letter in the Wall is based on a letter written by the real Joan that was found in the Wall of a Pennsylvania home more than half a century later. I was able to hear the author speak about this book. The way she actually found the letter in the wall of the home she was living in and I couldn't wait to read it! We follow Joan from her early childhood through marriages, her mother's death, and the birth of her own children. Joan's character is realistic and complex and at times it was hard to like her but I also had moments where I felt bad for her. Overall I truly enjoyed this story, it's emotional and captures the life of a woman that I'm sure many of us will be able to relate to in our own way! Thank you Get Red PR and Eileen Brill for sharing this book with me!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I am writing this review for Net Galley. In this story we follow Joan whom at summer camp meets this boy in the middle of the night. They kiss but nothing more happens. Joan decides to write him a letter but decides not to mail it. She hides it in a wall instead. Then she gets married to her first husband and has her first child Barbara. After that she gets married 2 more times. There we follow her ups and downs in hopes she will finally find what it is to help her out in life. I rated this a 3 be I am writing this review for Net Galley. In this story we follow Joan whom at summer camp meets this boy in the middle of the night. They kiss but nothing more happens. Joan decides to write him a letter but decides not to mail it. She hides it in a wall instead. Then she gets married to her first husband and has her first child Barbara. After that she gets married 2 more times. There we follow her ups and downs in hopes she will finally find what it is to help her out in life. I rated this a 3 because it was hard for me to read about the decisions she was making. I also did not like the ending. I highly recommend that you read the author's note first at the end before reading the book. When I read the author's note it helped me understand why the story was the way it was. I think if I would have read the author's note first it would have changed my mind while reading the story. The author's writing is very good especially for the challenge of writing this story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angie Flom

    The concept of this book is very intriguing. Eileen Brill found a letter in her wall and proceeded to research to find out who Joan was, what led to the letter she found, and what her life was like. Although Ms. Brill was unable to find out many details about Joan, she created a fictional story about what could have been based on the small details she was able to unearth. I felt that the story was intriguing, but was distracted by many errors in regards to the timing of the story. These were min The concept of this book is very intriguing. Eileen Brill found a letter in her wall and proceeded to research to find out who Joan was, what led to the letter she found, and what her life was like. Although Ms. Brill was unable to find out many details about Joan, she created a fictional story about what could have been based on the small details she was able to unearth. I felt that the story was intriguing, but was distracted by many errors in regards to the timing of the story. These were minor (such as going to an IHOP before IHOP was founded, using 'jerk' as a description before it's time and so forth), but I did find myself questioning items going forward and looking things up for validity while reading. The characters are interesting, but at times descriptions or details feel pushed in order to make a point. I did feel for Joan and her family, so the author did her job in pulling me into the story. I'd like to thank NetGalley for a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review. #aletterinthewalleileenbrillbooks #NetGalley

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill. Thanks to @getpredpr and @sparkpressbooks for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When I heard an interview with the author about the backstory, I knew I had to read it! She found an old unmailed letter in the wall of her Pennsylvania home. It was written by the previous owner’s teenage daughter who lived in the house in the 20’s. She grew curious and followed her history to find out she was murdered in Oklahoma. This was such an incredible imagining of what happened. Th A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill. Thanks to @getpredpr and @sparkpressbooks for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When I heard an interview with the author about the backstory, I knew I had to read it! She found an old unmailed letter in the wall of her Pennsylvania home. It was written by the previous owner’s teenage daughter who lived in the house in the 20’s. She grew curious and followed her history to find out she was murdered in Oklahoma. This was such an incredible imagining of what happened. The author is clearly very imaginative and creative to come up with this story based on what she had. I loved the main character; she was like the Scarlett O’Hara of Quakers. She did what she did in order to survive, but instead of losing the love of her life, she loses her life. “Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for your decisions.” A Letter in the Wall comes out 5/24.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    This book was incredible. I received an ARC from Get Red PR and Spark Press. It releases on May 24th 2022, and this book exceeded all of my expectations. It was so mesmerizing to learn about the story of Joan and her life. The end had me wanting to know more about her and research her even more. And that’s when I knew Eileen did an incredible job making this work of art. The story starts with Joan writing a letter and then as the reader we get to see Joan’s life and everything that led up to her This book was incredible. I received an ARC from Get Red PR and Spark Press. It releases on May 24th 2022, and this book exceeded all of my expectations. It was so mesmerizing to learn about the story of Joan and her life. The end had me wanting to know more about her and research her even more. And that’s when I knew Eileen did an incredible job making this work of art. The story starts with Joan writing a letter and then as the reader we get to see Joan’s life and everything that led up to her possible demise. I found myself rooting for Joan every step of the way and I am so riveted by her life and the beautiful tale Eileen wove. And let’s just say, the book has a very full-circle and beautiful ending. I loved this book so much and I didn’t want it to end! Go read this amazing book when it releases on 5/24/22! Check TW before reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I really enjoyed A Letter in the Wall, especially since I live in the Philadelphia area where part of the book takes place. This novel is a riveting work of historical fiction spanning from 1918 through the 1970s. The main character, Joan Dumann is complicated and at times I wasn't sure I even liked her. But I found her compelling nonetheless. Eileen's portrayal of Joan's fight to realize her ambitions in the face of society's restrictions on women and her attention to the little details (ie the I really enjoyed A Letter in the Wall, especially since I live in the Philadelphia area where part of the book takes place. This novel is a riveting work of historical fiction spanning from 1918 through the 1970s. The main character, Joan Dumann is complicated and at times I wasn't sure I even liked her. But I found her compelling nonetheless. Eileen's portrayal of Joan's fight to realize her ambitions in the face of society's restrictions on women and her attention to the little details (ie the period specific clothing and settings) kept my attention. At times I couldn't put this book down and the twisty ending kept me thinking about this interesting book long after I finished the novel. A great job by a promising new writer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Rozier

    First of all, this is a fantastic book. I read the bulk of it in one sitting. It has a main character, Joan, that I would describe as perpetually unsettled in her life. It’s like she is unsatisfied with who she is and projects her frustrations onto everyone close to her. This book has a timeline ranging from 1919-2007. It is a fascinating character study about a woman who wants more from her life than what societal norms dictate. It also has an interesting side story of murder. I also found it i First of all, this is a fantastic book. I read the bulk of it in one sitting. It has a main character, Joan, that I would describe as perpetually unsettled in her life. It’s like she is unsatisfied with who she is and projects her frustrations onto everyone close to her. This book has a timeline ranging from 1919-2007. It is a fascinating character study about a woman who wants more from her life than what societal norms dictate. It also has an interesting side story of murder. I also found it interesting from reading the author’s note that though this is a work of fiction, the author found a note in the wall of her own home which prompted the inspiration of this story. A great read with drama, semi-fractured relationships, and a flawed main character.

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