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.
My Thoughts: To write a book almost completely in letters and still manage to weave a compelling story is something I think would be incredibly difficult-yet Jessica Brockmole pulls it off in this engrossing story and makes it seem effortless. Beginning with a fan letter from David to poet Elspeth, the exchanges between the two prove to be lively, witty and entertaining. You can tell right away that these two are kindred souls in the letters. Even though the exchanges tell of the ordinary happenings in the lives of both characters, they are anything but boring and what begins innocently enough soon evolves into a treasured friendship between the two as David confides his fear of confronting his father about the direction he wishes his life to take and Elspeth divulging her secluded existence piece by piece. As the two reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings to eachother via the correspondence, it soon becomes clear that this relationship is going to transcend friendship which complicates things for Elspeth because she is already married.
The novel shifts between the letters of Elspeth and David beginning in 1912 and the letters between Elspeth's daughter Margaret and her beau Paul as Margaret tries to uncover her mother's past that she has long refused to talk about. Using the two sets of letter writers to tell the story works brilliantly here because what isn't disclosed in the letters between Elspeth and David is slowly uncovered in Margaret's search in the later period. This novel had me experiencing a wide range of emotions as it was easy to become attached to all of these characters. The trials they experience through both the World Wars as they try to remain connected had me tearing through the pages. I read the whole thing in 4 hours which is quite fast for me. Even though I had my doubts at first, the love story that unfolded between these pages held me right until the end. I wish there had been just a little more development of the Margaret/Paul arc but I was more than satisfied with the David/Elspeth story. Definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys epistolatory novels, anything set during World War I and II, or if you are looking for a really good romance. There is no doubt that I will be reading more from this author.
This book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for participation in the author's tour with TLC Book Tours. These are my honest thoughts on the book.
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.
To learn more about Jessica and her work, visit her website at www.jabrockmole.com.
For more reviews, giveaways, and guest posts with Jessica you can view the rest of the tour schedule HERE.