Friday, February 28, 2014

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Reviewed by Kristin

Letters from Skye is a grand love story told in letters.  In March 1912, poet Elspeth Dunn is living on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  She receives her first piece of fan mail, a letter from American college student David Graham.  The two embark upon a friendship and eventually a romance, before they even have seen each other face to face.  One small problem—Elspeth is married.  All too soon, World War I erupts and disrupts lives around the world.  Before the United States joins the war, David impulsively volunteers for the American Ambulance Field Service with an assignment driving for the French army.

The letters jump from the days preceding World War I to the days when tensions are mounting right before World War II.  But it is not just Elspeth writing letters in 1940, it is her daughter Margaret.  Margaret is writing to her mother, as well as to her young man Paul, and eventually to her long lost Uncle Finlay.  Margaret is caught up in a romance with Paul, despite Elspeth’s admonitions not to rush into anything serious.  Very soon, family secrets begin to surface.

I enjoyed this book very much, although it is not the type of thing that I usually read.  Yes, it is a love story, but the historical setting made it much more interesting to me.  Just imagining Elspeth living and writing her poetry on a remote Scottish island made me feel the wildness of the place.  Being an American, and originally a Midwesterner, I could easily picture David in his home setting of Chicago.
The alternating chapters moving from one time period to another were well connected, and kept me engaged.  The interaction between mother and daughter, as well as other family members, was well written.  Even though there is a very conspicuous lack of information about Elspeth’s husband early on, that is explained in later letters.

Secrets are kept, but eventually are revealed.  Elspeth is a very believable character who I connected with right away.  Spanning over 25 years, this is a love story that carries the reader quickly through the pages, arriving at a satisfying ending.

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