Joan N. (Evanston, IL)
Love Letters We'd Love to Get
Letters from Skye is made up of letters between David Graham who is studying at the University of Illinois and Elspeth Dunn, a young woman poet living an isolated life on the Scottish island of Skye. The letters range from 1912 to 1940. These are the romantic love letters we'd all love to get. It's not a long book—I couldn't put it down. I marveled at how the author could convey so much character, history, and emotion just using letters. I didn't think the letters rang totally true to their times but that didn't diminish my complete enjoyment.
Christopher R. (Brooklyn, NY)
the power of a handwritten letter
I had the pleasure of reading this book as part of Bookbrowse's First Impressions program. I can honestly say I loved it. The synopsis I read before requesting the book did not do it justice. It worked on so many levels. In a way, it is a commentary on the power of the handwritten letter. In an age of emails and texts, where the fastest route to instant gratification is always being sought, we have lost that angst that comes with waiting for a response. This book describes in great detail, those little moments when one struggles with exactly how to phrase what one wants to say and wonders how it will be received. Jessica Brockmole does a terrific job of developing the characters through letters: their idiosyncrasies, their desires, their strengths, and imperfections. There was one particular exchange in the beginning of the book regarding male and female roles that I especially loved. The love story, albeit complicated, feels real throughout. I found myself going through the thought process of the protagonists as the events unfolded. The consequences of the choices they make are widespread, affecting families, friends, and all of this plays out with two wars as the backdrop. I feel so good about the handwritten format after having just finished this book, that I wish it would have been published in handwritten form! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a rich, believable love story in a historical setting.
Chris W. (Temple City, CA)
Letters to remember
It was almost impossible to put this book down and, when I had to, I couldn't wait to get back to the letters and to these characters I had come to care about. I wanted to find out the end of their stories, yet I didn't want the book or the letters to end. Several moral issues are raised that could be discussed by book clubs, along with the lasting emotional and physical impact of war on families and friends. This quote had an impact: "You'll never know if you are on the right course for your life until you see the course that has brought you to where you are today." We are also reminded of how powerful "snail mail" letters can be in this new era of communicating via short emails and text messages, abbreviations, and emoticons. I loved this book, definitely recommend it to everybody, and will be giving it to several people for gifts.
Judith B. (Omaha, NE)
Perfect for a Summer Read
If you are looking for a pleasant view of the experiences of two everyday people in wartime, then this is your book. It is written in a "letters" format and covers the timeframe of WWI and WWII. I found the writing style to be charming, and the author's ability to describe her characters, their emotions, and their surroundings brought the two time periods alive. I particularly enjoyed the parts describing life on the Isle of Skye. There are complex morale issues that will make for an interesting discussion if the books is selected for a book group. It's a good, solid debut novel.
Jean T. (Paducah, KY)
Delightful Letters from Skye
I was extremely fortunate to be able to read this book virtually straight through – as it was I had a hard time finding a stopping point when I needed to break away. It was that compelling. I was interested through the opening pages, but by the end of the second chapter I was fully hooked. The author does an excellent job painting word pictures with only the letters written by the various characters during the first and second world wars. The characters are well developed as they are portrayed through their written words and you come to feel that you know and care about each of them as the book progresses.
This book reminds us of the intimacy and power of the written word to convey the soaring joys and searing pains of our human hearts and lives. I think this would be a great selection for book clubs and generally for those who enjoy literary novels. I should note that although it is a novel about a romance, it's not "chick lit" – my husband enjoyed it as well!
Susan K. (Dartmouth, MA)
Wow - great fodder here for book clubs!
This book is sure to be a hit with book clubs - so many ethical issues to debate. I found myself changing my mind more than once about certain characters during the course of the book. The letter exchange format is something I find enjoyable, and also enjoyed the author's many plot twists (a bit too many, perhaps, at the end of the book). I wish we could use half stars in our reviews - I'd up my review to 3 1/2 stars. Unfortunately, I found the characters, themselves, not at all interesting, and the language the author used also lacked any poetry - just straight reportage, in my opinion. I did find the book rather enjoyable, nonetheless, as I'm sure many others will also.
Linda A. (Palo Alto, CA)
A Good Summer Read
The fact I read Letters from Skye in less than three days is evidence that I liked this book! It held my interest as I read correspondence from two World Wars written by smart, witty, compassionate people with troubled lives and strong desires. These are imperfect people, striving to live with integrity while honoring their passions. Perfect for a long plane trip.