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 (GoodReads).
BOTH these covers are swoon-worthy.
Absurdity: 3. I am keeping this score low and calling it literary license, no absurdity. I kind of loved when the room exploded into letters and emotions got real.
Level of Harry Potterness: 4. In some ways the letters are great because they made the story immediate, but I find that ultimately they keep the author from being able to paint too much of a picture of spaces and characters besides their own observations. I wanted this, only because I liked what the book had going with characters and wanted it fleshed out more.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from Ballantine Books via NetGalley. Happy reading followed. (We do not accept or receive compensation for reviews at YAF and WS.)