A Book review by Ginger Dawn Harman
I have always enjoyed receiving a handwritten letter. There is something special about seeing the penmanship and the personal touches of ribbon, stickers, or a short poem on the back of an envelope. How many of you remember in grade school that first Pen pal letter from a foreign country? This excitement has been rekindled with an emotional fire in Jessica Brockmole’s novel, Letters from Skye.
The epistolary novel begins in 1912 as Scottish poet, Elspeth Dunn receives her first fan letter from an American college student named David Graham. These correspondence turn into an endearing relationship that war, time, and place separate Elspeth and David. As the Chapters switch from 1912 to 1940, the reader is introduced to Elspeth’s daughter Margaret, who has fallen in love with a solider during World War Two. It is fate that then brings the two stories together, as Margret learns of her mother’s past, interpersonal family conflict, the heartbreak of war, and a bit of loyal determination. Will love prevail?
Jessica Brockmole teases the reader with many twists and turns with her well-developed plot. I could not put this novel down and instantly connected with each character. With attention to sensory details, the author creates credible characters. My favorite character was the young eager David who desperately desires to discover his place in the world. Furthermore, his stoic gift to the main character Elspeth, had this reader in tears toward the end of the novel.
While the tension runs high with conflict toward the middle of the novel, Jessica Brockmole keeps the reader engaged. The relationship between Elspeth and her brother is heartbreaking as they come to terms with choices made. Much guilt is resolved as loved ones are not able to protect those who have left and not returned from World War I and World War II. These emotional roller coasters are a great transition for the many surprises waiting for the reader.
My favorite quote in the novel was, “A letter isn't always just a letter. Words on page can drench the soul.” Likewise, Jessica Brockmole provides the reader with whimsical wisdom. For instance, “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket” was particularly charming. I did feel that the word choices appeared to be a bit modern. Moreover, some of the letters appeared to be rushed. This left me confused since letter correspondence was an art form during this period of time. Yet, I was completely spellbound with the plot. The final quarter of the book left me breathless and the pace is nonstop at this point in the novel. I highly recommend Jessica Brockmole’s debut novel, Letters from Skye.