Letters from Skye [NOOK Book]

Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

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 ...
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Letters from Skye

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Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

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.
 
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

Praise for Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye is a captivating love story that celebrates the power of hope to triumph over time and circumstance.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

“[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, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination.”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
 
“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

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Technically, Elspeth Dunn was a published poet, but until that one fan letter arrived from America, this twenty-four-year-old felt like just another lonely Scottish island girl. The first note began an increasingly romantic correspondence that reaches a cliff when Elspeth's stateside admirer volunteers to be an ambulance driver in World War I. The epistolary story resumes in mid-1940 with the discovery of a long-concealed batch of letters and a daughter's search for her missing mother. Jessica Brockmole's debut novel follows a relationship caught in the throes of history.

Library Journal
In spring 1912, it was Elspeth Dunn's lyrical poetry about her home on the Isle of Skye that caught the eye of American David Graham and started a correspondence that would change both their lives. Though the relationship begins innocently as a single fan letter to a newly found favorite author, the pair slowly discover a true confidant and unconditional support in each other. But Elspeth is married. What can come of this? Already being compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this novel lacks the magical charm of its powerful predecessor. The isolation of island living and a world at war are used to accommodate some of the characters' heightened emotions, but the story begins to feel heavy-handed, and there are few surprises, good or bad. Told as an epistolary novel primarily from the perspective of the original couple, the narrative also includes a second story line set 20 years later that further reflects on the relationship. However, David and Elspeth never truly come to life. VERDICT Suggest to readers looking for a Nicholas Sparks-style novel but with a much happier ending. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/13.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Publishers Weekly
Brockmole uses letters to tell a remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars, cutting to the important matters that letter writers struggle to put into just the right words. In 1912, young poet Mrs. Elspeth Dunn, who has never left Scotland’s Isle of Skye because of her fear of boats, receives her first fan letter from David Graham, a college student in Urbana, Ill. They begin a long correspondence. After Elspeth’s husband goes off to war, she overcomes her fear and crosses to London to meet briefly with David, who is on his way to France to serve in the American Ambulance Field Service. Interspersed with Elspeth and David’s letters are 1940 missives from Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, to her uncle and her fiancé as she tries to find out about her father, since Elspeth will not talk about her past. 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, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (July)
From the Publisher
Letters from Skye is a captivating love story that celebrates the power of hope to triumph over time and circumstance.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

“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

Kirkus Reviews
In 1912, a chance letter from a young student to a reclusive poet sparks a trans-Atlantic romance spanning two wars. A fear of water has kept Elspeth Dunn on the Isle of Skye for all of her 24 years. Yet her poetry has traveled far, even to the bedside of David Graham, an American college student whose spirited shenanigans have landed him in the hospital with a broken leg. He writes her a fan letter, she responds, and an epistolary affair ensues. Yet more than water keeps the couple apart. David is struggling to gain independence from his domineering father. His grades are woeful and his career prospects uncertain. Worse, Elspeth happens to be already married. Her husband, Iain, has abandoned her to fight in the Great War. When David spontaneously decides to enlist as an ambulance driver, Elspeth is both terrified for him and thrilled at the prospect of meeting him face to face. Complicating matters is the disappearance of Iain, who is soon presumed dead. Jumping ahead to 1940, Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, escorts evacuated children to safe homes in the Scottish Highlands. She, too, has a wartime pen pal: Paul, a childhood friend–turned–Royal Air Force pilot. Elspeth cryptically warns Margaret about wartime romances, but before she can explain, she disappears during an air raid. Left with only an old love letter, Margaret begins searching for her mother, piecing together clues to a family secret. The correspondence between Elspeth and David, as well as between Margaret and Paul, carefully traces the intertwining of lives. By turns lyrical and flirtatious, Brockmole's debut charms with its wistful evocation of a time when handwritten, eagerly awaited letters could bespell besotted lovers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345542618
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 29,607
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Jessica Brockmole
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.
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Interviews & Essays

A letter from Jessica Brockmole, author of LETTERS FROM SKYE

Dear Reader,

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    I loved this book! Read it in 2 days. I enjoyed the letter forma

    I loved this book! Read it in 2 days. I enjoyed the letter format. It bounced back and forth between the letters written during the first world war between lovers and the letters written during the second world war between daughter and several people as she looked for her missing mom and tried to figure out what secret the past held.

    At the same time I was angry with Elspeth for cheating and admired her courage to go after what she wanted. You can't just hurt other people like that and get a charmed life or did she get a charmed life? Just when you thought you had the end figured out a surprise turns up! Now just who's daughter is Margaret anyway?

    The descriptions of Skye made me feel like I was there and the descriptions of the war raining down on them were very real too. It's a book that makes you feel wistful afterwards and leaves you feeling like you know these people, after all you read their intimate letters. If you love Scotland, mystery and romance this book is for you! Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2013

    I opened up the copy of Letters from Skye I won this morning and

    I opened up the copy of Letters from Skye I won this morning and was captivated by it. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. The letter format sucked me in. "Just one more," I said to myself and hours later I was still reading. I had to know what happened to Elspeth and whether she and David ever met and so forth until I had finished the book.

    I would recommend Letters to Skye to anyone who values relationships that begin with the sharing of mutual interests and respect and slowly build. Elspeth's daughter Margaret adds another layer to the anticipation of what happened in Elspeth's and David's lives, and watching her solve the mystery of Elspeth's closed-off life is beautiful. Even though the story takes place during two wars, there is no real violence to make the book hard to read. Because you get to read the letters from both sides their personalities develop; you learn their dreams and want them to find happiness. I found the ending satisfying and I think the story will stay with me for awhile.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Poignant. Rich. Subtle. So many more words I could use to descr

    Poignant. Rich. Subtle.

    So many more words I could use to describe this book. Jessica does a brilliant job of capturing 25 years of love between the pages of letters passed back and forth across the water. The transformation that Elspeth Dunn, the poetess in this tale, undergoes, is lovely to read. She's like a bird in a cage on her Isle of Skye, but once released, she's not quite sure how far she can fly. Davey, an adventurer with a heart for only one woman, is the key to her cage, but Ian, the childhood friend-turned-husband, is the earth beneath her.

    Family, love, sacrifice, betrayal, resentment, forgiveness, hope, hopelessness - these are all topics Jessica covers with elegance and grace in the timeless tale of the love triangle. Your heart will break for all three parties (and more), a situation compounded by the atrocities and effects of war.

    I read this in one sitting - thank goodness for a holiday weekend!

    Just a heads up - this book is about a war-time adulterous affair, so if the topic is not one you want to read about, this book isn't one for you.

    This book was provided to me by the publishing company for the purpose of this review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Letters from Skye is a delightfully good book that spans two wor

    Letters from Skye is a delightfully good book that spans two world wars. The romance is perfectly told. The story is told through letters, which works perfectly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2013

    Too 'Twee.'

    Too 'Twee.' I was excited about this book as Scotland is one of my favorite places yet the entire novel ending up falling flat. For the vast, wild beauty that is Skye, (and the fact the author is from there) there is not much in the way of atmosphere or description that truly captures that. I kept thinking that Skye ended up having little to do with the story--it sort of could have happened anywhere. In 'Downton Abbey's' wake this is another in a seeming flood of WWI and between wars stories--and this one just blends in with the rest. What starts out with an intriguing relationship between an older, married woman and a younger, idealistic student ends up totally predictable with plot points that have been repeated in an endless number of these books. Nothing of any originality happens here although the letter format of the story is engaging. Other reviewers have compared this to the 'Guernsey Literary' novel but I do not see it at all. 'Guernsey' is a WWII novel with wonderfully engaging characters; it is a thousand times better than this. 'Skye' is not a bad book; it works as an easy, afternoon read. But it is not one that will likely stay with you and a savvy reader will see the ending/resolutions coming for miles. In terms of WWI or between the wars novels--if you had read one of them, you have read this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Excellent!!!!!

    I loved the way the story is written in letters. This would be a good book club discussion novel about - conflict in emotions and perceptions. Another great historical novel is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. Right now it is only 99 cents on the Nook. Both books are excellent and deserve A+++++

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Berk

    Leaps on and hum.ps as his di.ck went in and out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    To clover

    A purple unicorn violently rips clover's head off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    Could not put it down

    Normally not the type of book I read but this was so good i read it in less than a day. The heart wants what the heart wants.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Honestly one of the best thought-out, well-written books I have

    Honestly one of the best thought-out, well-written books I have read in a long time. The way the two stories/time periods are interwoven makes for an interesting read. I also enjoyed the short chapters, which helped keep the read quick and easy to follow. I don't want to give anything away, but the story is so poetic and beautiful, I could barely put the book down. I look forward to more books by Jessica Brockmole. Such a good book!

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  • Posted November 30, 2013

    This is a beautifully written story that takes place during two

    This is a beautifully written story that takes place during two world wars and brings to life characters with profound emotion. I would highly recommend it! I truly enjoyed reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Wonderfully written cant wait to share!

    I loved this book! Jessica has the "voice" of each character. The letters felt so real and felt like you were actually there. There was so much emotion and could feel the intamacy between each penpal. The end gave me chills. I highly recommend!

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    This was such a fun read for me. I'm a softy for epistolary nov

    This was such a fun read for me. I'm a softy for epistolary novels. The author's descriptions of the Isle of Skye were wonderful!

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  • Posted September 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Great first book from Jessica Brockmole. I enjoyed the format o

    Great first book from Jessica Brockmole. I enjoyed the format of the story unfolding in letters and bringing together two different generations.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Beatifully written book.

    One of the best books I've read in a long time. From the first letter I was hooked.

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  • Posted September 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I LOVED this book and highly recommend it! Told entirely in lett

    I LOVED this book and highly recommend it! Told entirely in letters, this is a magnificent story of love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Excellent Book for those who loved "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

    This is an epistolary novel, (meaning the story is told through letters) and it was reminiscent of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that was so popular a year or two ago.
    I found the characters delightful and well rounded, and I found the prose to be enticing and the plot swift. I believe that those who enjoy novels about WW2 that have heart and soul and romance to them. The ending was a real tear-jerker, so please have tissues on hand! I would certainly recommend this to book groups and yes, I will read other works by this author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Great read. I will probably read it again in the future as I do with books I like.

    Loved this book, characters so real, story line thru letters always get me from the beginning of a book. The adultrey may bother some readers however it is the main part of the story. I found this book a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Unabashedly Romantic and Poignant

    Working at a Barnes and Noble myself, I had seen this book float across our bestsellers tables for a while. I will admit that, shallowly, I was originally drawnto it for its beautiful cover designand the fact that it was set in the UK. WhatI ended upvettingwas a shamelessly romantic tale of writing, love, distance, and the march of time. Anyone who is a fan of such heroines written by Jane Austen will thoroughly enjoy the wit and banter of the female leads, as well as thestruggles they undergo.

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  • Posted August 3, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Two sets of pen

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    Two sets of pen pals and a whole heck of a lot of letters are the heart of this story.  A mother and daughter both find themselves sending letters to men that they dearly love both at times of war when correspondence wasn't always reliable.  With the current times of email and text messaging and quick replies, it was interesting to be taken back in time where it could take a month to get a response to a letter.  These two ladies would wait days to hear news whether good or bad back from their loved ones.  I couldn't even imagine that today!

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