Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, reviewed
Recommended for: readers who like atmospheric love stories

Letters from Skye
By Jessica Brockmole

Epistolary novels have their unique problems, but this story surmounts most of them. It’s an old-fashioned love story that the author manages to set during both world wars. Most of the story takes place between 1912 and 1917. An American college student writes an unlikely fan letter to the author of a volume of poetry - although young, she lives in Skye and is married. Their friendship grows over the years into love, although they don’t meet for some time. Then the poet’s husband goes to war and she becomes understandably conflicted. Then the American goes to war, which at least gives them the opportunity to meet.

We know it’s a love story, and we hope it ends happily (something we don’t find out until the end, so I won’t give it away), but the author had the clever thought of having the poet’s daughter (also the American’s daughter? - we don’t find out right away) discover the letters years later, at the eve of World War II. So it is the daughter who tries to figure out why her mother is behaving so strangely, what the letters mean, and so forth.

The letters are not chronological, which adds to the suspense. And since there was no internet, we can believe that people really bothered to write all these letters back and forth (the daughter writes a number of them, trying to figure out what happened in the past to her mother, who won’t tell her and has also disappeared.) She also writes to her boyfriend, an RAF pilot, who writes back to her, so we have these parallel sets of love letters.

Brockmole has taken a story that might have been trite and made something more of it. The plot goes a bit against our expectations, the characters write interesting enough letters to keep us reading and the far-away setting adds to our pleasure. Are the two lovers doomed to a lifetime of disappointment and separation? You know how to find out!


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Reading Progress

July 16, 2013 – Started Reading
July 16, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 17, 2013 – Shelved
July 17, 2013 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 17, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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