Jessica Brockmole’s Letter’s from Skye is a breathtaking epistolary novel that captivates readers from start to finish. Beginning when David Graham, a young American college student, writes a fan letter to Elspeth Dunn, a Scottish poet, the novel is set in the years leading up to World War I. The letters between the two cross the Atlantic from Illinois to the Isle of Skye, and show a growing friendship that eventually becomes blossoms into a heartfelt relationship, only to be interrupted by the outbreak of war. David, or “Davey” as he is known, is not sure what to do with his life, and is drawn to the risk and excitement of serving as a volunteer ambulance driver in France. Through their communication, these two individuals grow in respect and love for one another, but Elspeth’s fears for Davey’s safety, and concerns about her own ability to be accepted by her family and community begin to darken the pages of their letters.
Twenty years later, Elspeth’s daughter Margaret has fallen in love with a childhood friend who has gone off to fight in World War II. Elspeth, fearing for her daughter’s heart, warns Margaret not to fall in love during wartime. After an attack on Edinburgh and an argument with Margaret, Elspeth vanishes one night, leaving only a handful of clues for Margaret to unravel. Determined to find her mother, and understand the “first chapter” of her mother’s life, Margaret searches for Elspeth, unraveling the mysteries of Elspeth’s family and her own father’s identity.
At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Letters from Skye is a moving novel with compelling characters, a unique plot, and unexpected twists. The letters (both the sets between Elspeth and Davey, and those between Margaret and her fiancee, Paul) are touching in their depth and tenderness, and readers are easily transported to the shores of Skye during World War I, and the hustle of Edinburgh during World War II. This book is incredibly hard to put down, and will stay with you long after you are finished.