Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole | All is Fair in Love & War

This unassuming little book with the haunting cover really took me by surprise. As the title indicates, it is written in letter form, which is becoming more and more rare in today's world of emails and instant messaging. The letter form keeps the pace fairly quick, but it also leaves room for delays and for us as readers to have to fill in a lot of blanks ourselves.

On top of being written in letter form, we also follow two parallel stories, which happen to be between mother and daughter. The stories are set respectively in the 1st and 2nd world war.

Elspeth/Sue is a young poet living on Skye. The story kicks off the day she receives a letter from a fan from America. When Elspeth writes back, she sets things in motion that will drastically change her life, and she goes from living a sheltered life on Skye to braving the ferry that she's avoided her whole life and setting forth into London and Paris to get to know David, her fan. It would be the perfectly romantic love story had it not been for the fact that Elspeth is already married to her brother's best friend Iain. Elspeth's choices will tear her family apart and leave open wounds in her life for decades.

Twenty-something years later, the raging war bring ghosts to life for Elspeth, and she sets off to see if she can make sense of her past. Her daughter Margaret is left in the loop. Since Elspeth never told her the story, Margaret decides to try find out for herself what is haunting her mother. She tracks down Elspeth's estranged brother Finlay and her grandmother on Skye who she's never met. Meanwhile, her boyfriend is a pilot in the war, and Margaret has her own love worries.

Letter by letter, we read on as Elspeth and David's friendship grows ever closer before it emerges as something else entirely. As David enlists, and therefore finds himself in Europe, the war brings them closer, before ultimately separating them completely.

Letters from Skye really grew on me the more I read. The love on every page was so pure and real. The plot is down to earth, yet heart shattering. Several times towards the end of the book I had to wipe away a few tears and put the book aside to properly digest what was happening. When I read the last page I cried happy tears.

A literary pearl, Letters from Skye will make you fall in love, break your heart, then mend it again. It tells the story of everlasting love, and as the true romantic I am, it really spoke to me. 

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