Letters from Skye is the second novel that I have read recently that within a few short sentences my opinion of the whole was radically changed. I happened to listen to both of these books but I am accustomed to listening to audio-books so I will accredit this to coincidence for now. In this case Jessica Brockmole‘s depiction of lovers separated from circumstances be they as small as misunderstanding or as insurmountable as war, the conclusion was achingly beautiful. Elevated from a good if somewhat bland story to one that as I listened to the final scene I could feel tears pricking in the corner of my eyes.
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.
I believe that Letters from Skye is the kind of story that improves with time much like a fine wine. I thought that I didn’t particularly like stories that were told in epistolary format until I read and adored another book of a similar composition. Like Dear Adam, the initial connection is struck through a complimentary communication.
In the Spring of 1912, a young published but somewhat obscure poet living on the remote Isle of Skye, Scotland receives a fan letter from across the pond. This commences the exchange of letters between the American college student and the married poet.
Twenty eight years later Elspeth and her daughter Margaret are living alone in Edinburgh. The explosion of a bomb nearby reveals a collection of years worth of letters addressed to a woman called Sue. When Margaret questions her mother about the letters, they argue and the next morning her mother has disappeared without a word.
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.
Determined to seek answers Margaret begins writing her own letters reaching out to a family she has never known and relating her findings to her lover a pilot in the Royal Air Force.
A number of reviews I have read compared this book somewhat unfavorably to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Having been completely turned off by the title I had never considered reading it but after enjoying this lovely story I will try to get past the off putting title. Regardless, Letters from Skye is an gratifying story with an engaging heroine and equally dashing American hero that I would recommend particularly to fans of wartime romance.
AUTHOR: Jessica Brockmole
RATING: 3 1/2 Stars
GENRE: Historical Fiction
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