Title: Letters from Sky
Author: Jessica Brockmole
Letters as a way of communicating are going away. People no longer wait by their mailbox with the hopes a letter will come for them. We email now, or use Facebook or Twitter. Near instant communication. We also share so much of our lives today that things that used to be private have now become basic public information. I think this is why the letter format of Letters from Skye appealed to me so much.
The entire novel is made up of letters. Every single page is filled with correspondence; letters between David and Elspeth, letters between Elspeth’s daughter Margaret and Paul…every detail of the story is given between the lines of those letters. There is only so much a letter can convey. It’s a tiny glimpse into the life of the letter’s author. The entire story isn’t told; there are details that aren’t there, days that are left blank. But what is in those letters is a love story spanning countries, oceans, continents, and decades.
Elspeth is a poet who has never ventured beyond the island she calls home. She finds inspiration in the land she grew up on, and the poems she writes leads an American to write her first fan letter. From there, a friendship builds. David and Elspeth begin a relationship of honesty and truth. They begin to depend upon each other and their friendship continues to grow until love finds its way in. Just when they think they might be able to start something amazing, David becomes involved in World War I and their letters become even more important.
The other set of letters, between Margaret and Paul, takes place during World War II. Paul is a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force and Margaret has fallen for him. Elspeth warns her daughter of what a war can do to a relationship, but Margaret holds onto her love with Paul. After a bomb sends letters flying around the home Margaret and Elspeth share, Margret begins to question her mother and her secrets. They are the secret Elspeth has kept locked away for 20 years, even from Margaret. When Elspeth disappears, taking the letters with her, Margaret sets off on a journey to discover her mother’s story and how that is tied to Margaret’s unknown father.
David and Elspeth’s love story is powerful and real. The challenges they face, shown through these letters, are moving and brought tears to my eyes. Getting to see this love span the decades through letters is more powerful than reading a narrative would have been. Sure, there are some details that aren’t shared, but what you do read is even better. You read two people falling in love and finding a way to maintain that relationship through a war.
I imagine that reading Letters from Skye is much like hearing the story about how your grandparents fell in love. You many hear one story from you grandpa, and one from your grandma, but once you read those letters they exchanged before getting married, you finally understand it. I don’t know how to describe the feeling this book gave me, but it moved me to tears.
Letters from Skye is Brockmole’s first novel. I am hoping beyond expression that it isn’t her last. Her way of weaving a story so beautiful has made me a devoted fan from the very first page. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of historical fiction, this is a must read book.
Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.