- File Size: 1519 KB
- Print Length: 306 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 9, 2013)
- Publication Date: July 9, 2013
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00BABT9VE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,155 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$17.00|
Save $5.01 (29%)
Random House LLC
Price set by seller.
Letters from Skye: A Novel Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 306 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
“A remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars [in which] the beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Tantalizing . . . sure to please readers who enjoyed other epistolary novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”—Stratford Gazette
“A poignant tale of a stubborn love that bridges the lives and wars of two generations, Letters From Skye gives the reader a story to inhale as well as read, unfolding amid the gripping panorama of a changing world—an absorbing and rewarding saga of loss and discovery.”—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
“A sweeping and sweet (but not saccharine) love story.”—USA Today
“[A] dazzling little jewel.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from Skye is a fascinating, lyrical tale of love and loss. Gracefully weaving the tales of lovers and brothers and sisters spanning two wars, Brockmole expertly explores the toll of both honesty and deception upon hearts battered by war and society’s expectations.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife
“Jessica Brockmole is a gifted storyteller who weaves beauty and emotion into her pages. Letters from Skye will tug at your heart and make you long for the salty air of the Isle of Skye.”—Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Camellia
A Letter from the Author, Jessica Brockmole
As an American who spent years living abroad, I know too well the challenge in maintaining relationships from a distance. Before telephones and webcams made separations easier, people had no choice but to entrust bits of their heart to the postman with every letter they sent. A lost letter could cause sleepless nights, a returned letter, even more. But a reply penned immediately, in a hot rush of emotion, could make the soul soar. Letters from Skye is a story about lovers and families separated by war, with nothing but pen and paper to hold everything together.
I first wrote this book six years ago, while I was living in Edinburgh, Scotland. After my youngest was born, we escaped the city and went to the Isle of Skye for one gorgeous week. We stayed in a cottage on the beach and chased legends across the island in the rain. Evenings, I sprawled before the little peat coal fire with maps of Skye, tracing the coast and trying my tongue at the Gaelic. On the drive back to Edinburgh, a story came together in my head. The story of a woman bound to the poetry of Skye, held within those rocky coasts, being given a glimpse of the greater world with the unexpected arrival of an envelope. The story of a man, desperate to prove himself fearless, finding his only fear on the other end of those letters. The story of a daughter, trying to catch the past as it comes tumbling out of the wall. I scribbled notes right there in the car and started furiously writing when we got back home.
The result of that outpouring wasn’t just a novel; it was an extended letter to myself, written in those secret, lonely hours after the rest of the world went to bed. A letter reminding me to not lose touch with those I love, no matter where in the world we may be. Reminding me that it’s okay to have fears; I’m stronger for overcoming them. Reminding me to walk to the borders of who I am, and then to take a step beyond.
I invite you to do the same.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
"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"
Stayed up until 2:30AM to finish reading this beautiful story so very beautifully written, so compelling, so gosh danged wonderful, I don't mind trying to start my day two and a half hours late on less than seven hours of sleep, but I will probably regret it later when I want a nap.
I have never heard of this author before, but I intend to read everything she's ever written.
Author Jessica Brokmole alternates the chapters between letters written to and from Elspeth during World War I and letters written to and from Margaret, Elspeth's daughter, during World War II. Elspeth lives on the Isle of Skye, Scotland at the opening of the book (hence the title) and leaves a lot of family secrets and mysteries for Margaret to unearth a generation later, including the identity of her father. The ending is a bit like a soap opera, but so what? It's fun! And really good.
It's a short, easy book to read that is also quite engrossing--an epistolary treasure!
Jessica Brockmole has done a wonderful job of bringing these two characters to life only through their letters. There is no other narrative or dialogue than what we share through the characters' written word. Very intriguing. Very difficult. And yet she makes it work. Perhaps this book touched me so much because my husband and I dated through Vietnam—a time before email, Facetime and Skype, Facebook or any other electronic communication. We wrote letters, which made our communications harder and yet sweeter. We even wrote years later, when I visited Skye and saw for myself the wild beauty that was part of Elspeth's soul.
I'll admit, the ending seemed a little rushed but it didn't destroy the feeling built throughout the rest of the book. Letters from Skye really touched me.
Top international reviews
This is a very hard book to give a rating to. When it's at its best, it is very good indeed, but it's of a variable standard. On the positive side, Brockmole does create a real sense of warmth and excitement in the David/Elspeth relationship. Their epistolary chats about literature are lovely, there's some attractive descriptions of Skye (though not quite enough), and the letter format provides a very poignant way to show the pair falling in love, without even realizing what is happening to them to begin with. There's a real sense of danger in the sections when Davey is at the Front, and in the later stages of the book Brockmole is strong on Elspeth's confusion about her divided loyalties. And I have to confess that I had a tear in my eye in the final chapters! So, as a romance the book triumphantly succeeded in making me care about both the lovers, and wish them well, and I thought the wartime setting was good. The book's also very readable indeed - I galloped through it in about three days, and with a lot of work on at the same time.
On the other hand, I have to say that - like Sarah Blake's 'The Postmistress' though this is an infinitely superior book - there was much about the narrative that struck me as being improbable. For example - how many working-class Scottish girls living on the islands managed to make it as successful poets in the 1910s? I know there are examples of Scottish women from humble backgrounds who became successful writers of literary fiction and poetry (Jessie Kesson springs to mind) but they tended to be born later (Kesson came to fame after World War II) or, like Nan Shepherd, managed to get to university. I think Brockmole distinctly underplayed Elspeth's humble and probably quite poor background (I also doubt she'd have talked so casually about trying for college in around 1912). Then there was the tone of the letters. It's possible that David, a lover of Mark Twain and an impetuous young man, would have written quite informally - but would a Scots crofter's daughter really have written back such chatty, relaxed letters immediately, to a complete stranger? And wouldn't Elspeth's guilt at getting close to another man when she was married have been much stronger? Brockmole also underplays the role of religion in the islands, I think - although Elspeth might have been free-thinking herself, she would have almost certainly come from quite a strict Presbyterian background (unless her family were very unconventional) and so would have felt a deal of religious guilt about falling for a young man when she was already married. Which brings me to the main problem of the book - the situation with Elspeth's husband Iain is very badly handled. It is certainly true that people can make mistakes in who they marry, and, through no fault of their own, fall passionately in love while married to someone else. What I felt was unbelievable was how relaxed both Elspeth and David were about the whole thing. There was barely any mention of Iain in the letters until he went to war (it was almost along the lines of 'oh yes, I've forgotten to tell you about my husband, I mentioned him about 100 pages ago very briefly') and once he was gone, Elspeth's indifference (at one point she says something rather airy like 'I'm not worried about Iain') was unbelievable for a person we were meant to believe was so caring. She might well have had a wonderful nine days with David in London, but I think there'd have been a lot of guilt and worry alongside it. Brockmole should, I feel, have worked Iain and Elspeth's feelings about him much more strongly into the book. It'd have made it a less cosy read, but a more interesting one and would have actually made Elspeth more sympathetic. (And the very good writing about Davey's feelings about Iain later on shows Brockmole was perfectly capable of doing this.)
I also found some of the historical references in the book improbable (apologies if they were not). How could Elspeth and David, neither of whom were rich, spend nine days in the posh Langham Hotel? If Elspeth wasn't working (poetry's never paid that highly) how could she afford to 'let a flat in Edinburgh', and what did she live on after she moved there for good with Margaret? At one point when Davey is wounded Elspeth crosses the Channel and goes to see him in France. Not only would this have been ruinously expensive for a fisherman's wife, but I don't believe that women could actually get to the soldiers and ambulance drivers easily (when Sylvia Tietjens visits her husband Christopher in 'Parades End' not only does she get into trouble, but I think she can only do it with some sort of military pass from an admirer). I don't think escapes from German camps were as regular or easy as the one described in the book (not if that Jean Renoir film about one is anything to go by) and there was little mention of the terror of the Blitz in the World War II sections (even if Elspeth was wounded in it). And how did people keep whizzing around so easily by train during World War II, when seats were at a premium and delays horrific? And that's before one wonders at the speed Elspeth keeps expecting letters to America to be answered in 1940. Also - why did she have to go to the Langham Hotel (and spend yet more money) to send out her letters? Couldn't she have made a research trip to London then done her writing and mailing from Scotland?!
And there were other minor quibbles on the way. I get why 'Sue' was used as a name (no spoiler, we learn who 'Sue' is at about Page 20), as Margaret has to be unsure who the letters are to, but it bears hardly any relationship to the name 'Elspeth' and we never learn why David chose it. It's a mistake (as always - I still remember Christabel La Motte's dreadful poetry in 'Possession', not to mention Randolph Henry Ash's) to quote fictional 'great' poets by attempting to write their poetry as Brockmole does (though to be fair the bit she writes, if slushy, isn't that bad!). And I didn't find the Margaret/Paul story nearly as compelling as the Davey/Elspeth one as they were neither that interesting as characters.
Nevertheless, there was something very powerful about the Davey and Elspeth relationship (and Davey was a genuinely attractive hero, who became more so throughout the book - no mean thing) which made me decide to hold onto this book after reading it, and I imagine that - all these quibbles not withstanding - I will read it again. Creating a genuinely romantic relationship takes some doing, so bravo to Brockmole for that.
It's a very endearing story, beautifully written, of two people who find each other through the love of poetry and writing and from that end up loving each other for who they are. I enjoyed the different tones of each letter, easily moving from Elspeth and Davy and then later to other introduced characters.
The descriptions of Skye are beautiful and gave a real sense of atmosphere, which I really enjoyed. The consequences their actions created also felt real, as did their discussions on social expectations and the moral constraints they both experience due to their choices. At times its slightly convenient that an event or person pops up when needed, but sometimes you need to stretch reality somewhere and overall that didn't sour the experience of the storytelling for me. I greatly enjoyed hearing their voices tell the story of their love for each other with all the twists and turns along the way.
The line 'A letter isn't always a letter, words on the page can drench the soul' is now one of my favourite book quotes and sums up Letters from Skye. Highly recommended.
So beautifully written
I do think the ending did seem a little rushed & contrived.