Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Letters from Skye: A Novel by Jessica Brockmole

 
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: April 8, 2013

Cover 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.

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I wasn't sure a story told through letters would work for me, but reading Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye made me realize I get a perverse sense of joy reading other people's mail. Granted we're talking fictional characters so it isn't a crime or anything, but even so. That's not wrong is it? 

All joking aside, I was both pleased and disappointed with this piece. See, I'd picked it up hoping for a wartime romance, but what I found was closer to a romance set in wartime. There just wasn't enough history in it for me. That being said, Letters from Skye presents a beautiful image of the long distance relationship and affairs of the heart.

From the blurb I knew the relationship between Elspeth and David would evolve into a romantic attachment, but it was their early letters that struck a chord with me. Their friendship seemed so natural and easy, unlike their later letters which are so emotionally charged they are borderline dramatic. 

With exception of the conclusion, which  felt rushed, I actually enjoyed Letters from Skye for both its subtleties and depth. While not the book I'd expected, I took much pleasure from the time I spent with it. 

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I should have told you, should've taught you to steel your heart. Taught you that a letter isn't always just a letter. Words on the page can drench the soul.
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