It’s been months since Ginny Blackstone left Greece without the final of a series of envelopes from her beloved Aunt Peg — a collection of instructions that took her on a cross-European adventure and got her break out of her timid shell. While carrying out the last of Peg’s wishes, Ginny’s bag was stolen . . . and the last envelope was gone with it.
Back in the U.S., Ginny receives mysterious word that someone has discovered her bag — and Peg’s instructions. Relieved, scared and excited, Ginny leaves for London in the hope that she’ll be able to finish the project she started. But returning to England and meeting Oliver, the new keeper of the envelopes, does nothing but reopen old wounds. Coupled with discovering that Keith, the enigmatic and handsome actor she met on her first tour, is still in London — but not still single — Ginny is quickly realizing her life could get out of control.
But she’s on a mission — and has a job to finish. It might take most of her money and a bit of her sanity, but it’s time to take the plunge.
Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope, sequel to her madcap adventure 13 Little Blue Envelopes, is an international romp I enjoyed even more than the first book. For all her traveling and bravado, Ginny still seems meek — but it’s the appearance of Oliver, a brooding Brit with an agenda, that really spices up the story.
The strength of this book — of all the Johnson books I’ve read — is her cutting sense of humor. The wit isn’t as overt in The Last Little Blue Envelope as it is on Twitter, perhaps, but Johnson has a talent for creating surreal situations that enchant readers and draw them heavily into a story. The pacing was brisk and exciting, and I couldn’t help but feel like something crazy was going to happen at any minute.
Being obsessed with travel, the Envelope books were both fascinating reads for me. Ginny’s adventures this go ’round take her to Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, London and Wales, and reading about Ireland was a warm, refreshing change of pace. I did a double take after reading that Richard, Ginny’s pseudo-uncle, lives in Islington; Ginny took the Angel tube stop to reach his home. In April, I stayed at a hotel just blocks from there and used the Angel station as our “home base” on the trip. It was exciting to see it in print and immediately have a mental picture to accompany it.
I loved the romantic tension between Oliver, Ginny and Keith — not all together, of course — and thought Johnson did well to make Oliver so different from the previous object of Ginny’s affection. You want to dislike Oliver — and distrust him — but Keith somehow comes out looking like a bigger prat. I was rooting for Oliver and Ginny almost from the beginning.
And that wasn’t hard to do. The book isn’t terribly unpredictable, as it were; in fact, I could spot the ending early on. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still fun meandering Amsterdam’s canals and Paris’ cafes with this random assortment of characters, and I finished this book in two sittings. A fun, diverting read — especially for the armchair traveler.
4 out of 5!