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Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye
Jessica Brockmole
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: July 2013
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review

Blurb: 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.

Review: What an infuriating novel! Oh, but what a lovely romance. A love that had began with a simple letter from a fan to an author of a poetry book, a letter of admiration for her work. The correspondence between them continues, at first benign, discussing poetry and other literary stuffs, with tidbits about their lives. And they continue to share throughout the years of their lives all the activities that they are both involved in from their different parts of the world, thousands of miles away from one another; she, Elspeth, in Scotland, and he, David (Davey), in Illinois, USA. 

I'm normally not a fan of epistolary novels, but this one captures your heart. Espeth and David slowly, by the tiniest trickle, begin sharing their hopes and dreams, but not disclosing to one another what they are feeling for each other. Elspeth is a married woman as she informs Davey in one of the letters, further suppressing, or keeping hidden, the sparks that has begun in him, in her. 

The letters continue though, and they begin to learn more and more about one another: the deepest of fears to the highest ambitions.Then, the unthinkable occurs: World War I. And Davey decides to join and assist the country of France, although the USA is not involved quite yet. And the letters continue but by this time, they have intimately shared their feelings and are intricately bound to one another. Their love survives through the horrors of the war, the husband, and their families.

As life and humans being what they are, there are many circumstances and interfering people getting between them, determined to get between them. Their love, thankfully, survives through the years and develops into something greater and deeper. 

I will not mention here the details that infuriated me, but I will tell you that those self-same passages kept me gripped to my kindle. You must read this book to discover those details yourself! ;) 

A very romantic book that could have been the true story of many couples. The letters themselves seemed real enough, with completely different voices, one distinctly Elspeth and one distinctly Davey. I have closed the book (well, ebook) with wistful feelings about the soon-to-be lost art of letter writing as we move forward deeper into the fast moving, less personal electronic communications. A shame. 

4.5 stars and highly recommended for anyone who loves a good, clean, old-fashioned romantic story. 

E-copy was an ARC provided by the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

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