Author: Jessica Brockmole
Provided Synopsis: 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: In a contrast with the typical war stories that I read, Letters from Skye is told completely through the usage of letters. In the year 1912, David Graeme (an American) writes a letter to Elspeth Dunn (from Scotland) to express how much he loved her book of poetry. Years pass by yet the two of them never cease to write to each other; they transition from transatlantic pen pals to lovers as the world expands to include them within the period of the First World War. Then, in a dual storyline structure set during World War II, there are letters from Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, as she writes to those from her mother’s past in an attempt to understand why her mother has suddenly disappeared from home upon the discovery from a wall full of letters. The Davey of years before is not a part of their life, and Margaret longs to know of the whys and the hows.
While I appreciated being able to read a wartime romance in a different format, this one did not hit the mark due to the letters. I felt very little connection or love between Elspeth and David. The plot of the story and maturation of their emotions must rely entirely upon the letters the reader has, and what I had seemed to melt down to be the same. By this I mean that I could not detect a strong sense of a voice from any of the characters through their letters; because of the monotonous tone of the letters the same person could have written them, and we would really never know. In conclusion, the restriction of only using letters hinders this book due to this lack of strong and definitive character voices. This is a story that could have been very well done yet it fell short of what I had expected.