Letters from Skye
Jessica Brockmole, 2013
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.
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice. (From the publisher.)
Jessica Brockmole, an American writer, spent several years living in Scotland, where she knew too well the challenges in maintaining relationships from a distance. She plotted her first novel on a long drive from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh. She now lives in Indiana with her husband and two children. (From the publisher.)
A love story to the power of the written word.
Sensitive and absorbing and unique.
Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
(Starred review.) Brockmole uses letters to tell a remarkable story of two women...and two world wars.... The beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination.
Already being compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this novel lacks the magical charm of its powerful predecessor.... [T]he story begins to feel heavy-handed, and there are few surprises, good or bad. [T]he narrative also includes a second story line set 20 years later that further reflects on the [original] relationship. However, David and Elspeth never truly come to life. —Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Told exclusively via letters between lovers, mother and daughter, and husband and wife, Brockmole’s novel will make readers feel that they’re illicitly reading someone’s diary. But the letter convention has its drawbacks. It’s difficult to get a full sense of who these characters are beyond what is written in their letters, which leaves them, at times, flat and two-dimensional. —Carolyn Kubisz
The correspondence between Elspeth and David, as well as between Margaret and Paul, carefully traces the intertwining of lives. By turns lyrical and flirtatious, Brockmole's debut charms with its wistful evocation of a time when handwritten, eagerly awaited letters could bespell besotted lovers.
These questions were submitted by Linley Bartell, a member of Book Buddies. Thank you Linley!
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