Letters from Skye: Book summary and reviews of Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye

By Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2013,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader's imagination." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. By turns lyrical and flirtatious, Brockmole's debut charms with its wistful evocation of a time when handwritten, eagerly awaited letters could bespell besotted lovers." - Kirkus

"Suggest to readers looking for a Nicholas Sparks-style novel but with a much happier ending." - Library Journal

"A poignant tale of a stubborn love that bridges the lives and wars of two generations, Letters From Skye gives the reader a story to inhale as well as read, unfolding amid the gripping panorama of a changing world—an absorbing and rewarding saga of loss and discovery." - Kate Alcott, bestselling author of The Dressmaker

"Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye is a fascinating, lyrical tale of love and loss.  Gracefully weaving the tales of lovers and brothers and sisters spanning two wars, Brockmole expertly explores the toll of both honesty and deception upon hearts battered by war and society's expectations." - Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator's Wife

"Letters from Skye is a captivating love story that celebrates the power of hope to triumph over time and circumstance." - Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers

The information about Letters from Skye shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Becky H
A lovely story told in the lost art of letter writng
This was a lovely story with interesting people telling of their hopes and dreams in letters. A bit of a mystery is thrown into the mix in the last quarter. Just as in actual letters sent to strangers the characters become known bit by bit as they write about themselves, their lives, their ideas and opinions. In the same way, you will want to know more than is revealed.
Book groups will find the ongoing discussion of education, choosing a career and choosing a life path a worthy topic for discussion. Other good discussion topics might be courage in attempting or reacting to new things, revealing your past to a child, choosing to serve in the military or not, reactions to loss and family secrets and, finally, how a person's attitudes and dreams change as time passes. A question to consider might be "how long would YOU wait at St. Mary's Cathedral?"
These letters are generally short and deal with only one topic at a time so the comparison to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not really valid.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Mary O. (Boston, MA)
The Lost Art of Letter Writing
As you pick up Letters from Skye and get engrossed in the love story against the backdrop of war, you suddenly realize that written letters are no longer the preferred method of communication. This is a captivating novel told through letters. You instantly are transcended to Elsbeth's and Davey's individual worlds and feel like you are writing the letters and living their lives. You grow to love the characters through their writing. I highly recommend this book - I LOVED IT!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Judith W. (Brooklyn, NY)
Interesting....I guess
I enjoyed about 3/4s of this book, but had to struggle to get to the end. However, I did want to know how it turned out, so it couldn't have been too bad. The premise initially intrigued me, but it went on too long, and (though it may have been intended) the 'secret' of the protagonist's father did not last very long.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Elizabeth M. (Syracuse, NY)
Love Letters
I took this book away with me for a weekend by the water and it was perfect to read while laying in the sun. The book is entirely made up of correspondence between different family members and different sets of lovers during the two time periods surrounding World War I and World War II. For me, the fact that the whole story was made up of letters allowed me to be immediately invested in the story because I felt that I was in the character's heads and understanding their motivations. I really enjoyed the love story that developed between two of the characters, focusing as it did on the question of what the "right" choice is when it comes to love: to follow your heart, even if it means hurting someone, or if it is to remain faithful to those who you have made commitments to. As a fan of the post office and someone who fervently hopes that people will recognize the importance of letters, I hope that this book may inspire some readers to write love letters of their own. Another positive about this book was the very atmospheric descriptions of Isle of Skye in Scotland. The language the author used to describe the peat bogs, rolling hills and reliance on the sea was really wonderful.The only portions of the book that I was a bit disappointed with were some of the historical aspects. At times it seemed that certain historical facts or situations were raised when it was convenient to move the love story forward, but were not adequately explored to ground the story in a sense of reality.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Jorie (Florida)
Journey to Skye: slip into Elspeth's shoes, one letter at a time.
Elspeth is a Highlander Scot endowed to reside on the enchanted Isle of Skye, which sparks an intuitive creative voice inside her soul as a young girl. She learned to channel this gift by etching her observations and heartfelt wisdom into droplets of visceral poetry. Inasmuch as igniting a young man half a world away to discover something he had not felt was lost and conveyed his gratitude by penning her a letter. A letter he never expected her to reply too and thus began their entwined story. Of a woman entrapped by fear of the sea by which she couldn't allow herself to experience the world beyond Skye and of a boy struggling to become a man on the threshold of war.

Letters are at their very core intimately raw in their conveyance of our innermost thoughts and emotions. We can spilt onto a page by word and context a connection that goes deeper than the superficial, fully absent of pretense and rightly an instinctive pause to reveal our truest of selves. You become lost in their exchanges to the brink that each time slip between the World Wars loses its mirth and all that is left is the anticipation of what news the next letter shall bring! You're caught in a vortex of uncertainty living through each painful revelation and consolation between Elspeth and David.

And, yet this is a story that involves Margaret, the daughter of Elspeth who never knew her origins nor understood her mother as a woman. She too, is on a collision course with destiny that is half stitched in the past and half propelled forward by future events. Your heart aches and bleeds with Elspeth as she becomes fraught with despair and the anguish of the unknown. The churning of the tides ebbs and flows during the second half of the novel, but it's not foreshadowed to reveal the ending which washes away the dried tears and leaves the reader a smile upon her lips!

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)
Wonderful Letters
I did not want the story to end. This book was a great read. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute - I felt like I was transported to wherever the writers were. Jessica Brockmole hit this one on the head. It was a very refreshing read, never a dull moment nor was I lost as to who was speaking in the story. Look forward to reading more from this author.

...24 more reader reviews

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Jessica Brockmole spent several years living in Scotland, where she knew too well the challenges in maintaining relationships from a distance. She plotted her first novel on a long drive from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh. She now lives in Indiana with her husband and two children. Visit her at www.jabrockmole.com

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