Letters from Skye
author : jessica brockmole
pages : [hardcover] 304
favorite character : davey
A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
I’ve been really wanting to read more historical fiction lately and I’ve always had a fascination with World War I or II in books. Add in the fact that this story is told completely through letters, alternating between the two time periods, and I was completely sold even before I knew more about the novel.
At first I wasn’t too sure about our two leading characters who really define both sets of letters in both wars. David seems like a self-absorbed college boy and Elspeth seems like a stuck-up poet. But as they grow to be more comfortable in their exchange and the reader delves in further into their relationship it’s easier to see the true and better selves lurking behind the prose that’s often set there to impress. I even grew to like David’s cocky attitude, even though I usually don’t prefer to read about characters like that.
I can say that what I thought would be predictable about this book wasn’t. Because of the way the letters from the second war are alternating chapters with the others I immediately started to assume that I knew what had happened and wondered why the author would give that away. That’s why I was happy when in the latter half of the book I realized that there were so many different ways that this could all go and I couldn’t have anticipated the conclusion it actually came to.
I really want to read more by this author. This book is beautifully written with great characters. It will grab you and make you want to read it all in one sitting. It’ll make you laugh and cry. You’ll be angry at the characters and then you’ll love them. I’ll recommend this book to anyone.