Book Review: LETTERS FROM SKYE by Jessica Brockmole

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½

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.

LETTERS FROM SKYE is stunning and heartbreaking story told entirely in letters written during the two World Wars. I love epistolary novels, and the author did a beautiful job bringing her characters to life on the pages of the letters. I could easily feel their passion, pain, and conflicted emotions through their words.

The book begins with a fan letter written to Elspeth Dunn, a poet living on the Isle of Skye, from an American college student named David. It’s through their correspondence that they fall in love, but it’s not without consequences. Then fast-forward to 1940, and the letters are between Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, and her boyfriend Paul who’s serving in the Royal Air Force. A bomb blast reveals Elspeth’s old letters from David, and afterwards, she mysteriously disappears. Margaret must then search for the real story of her mother’s past in hopes of finding out where she’s gone.

The characters in this book really grabbed hold of me, and theirs is a story that will stick with me for a long time. LETTERS FROM SKYE was a poignant story about falling in love, the heartbreak of war, and never giving up hope. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.