LETTERS FROM SKYE – Jessica Brockmole
A Perfect 10
Scotland – 1912 and 1940
David Graham, a college student in Urbana, Illinois pens a fan letter to a poet in Scotland expressing his joy in her book. That poet, Elspeth Dunn, lives in a remote village on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and the last thing she expected was a fan letter from anyone. She replies, and soon the two begin to exchange many letters over the next few years. Elspeth is married to a fisherman who doesn't seem to share her literary enthusiasm, so soon she begins to relish the witty, intelligent correspondence from the American. What is the harm? After all, he's far away and Elspeth never leaves the island because she's terrified of boats and the ocean.
Within a few years, however, with the war affecting Britain and the Continent, Elspeth is not only worried about her husband and brother serving in the Army, but also now David has volunteered to drive ambulances in France. The letters continue, and their relationship expands.
In 1940, Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, is in love with an RAF pilot, a young man she's known as a good friend for many years. Elspeth is terribly upset by this and warns Margaret of the dangers of wartime romance. Confused, Margaret wonders why her mother sits in the local cathedral each day. But all comes to a head when the Germans bomb the area and their apartment is damaged. Amid the wreckage of the house are hundreds of old letters that her mother had hidden away. When Margaret tries to question Elspeth, she is rebuffed, and then Elspeth disappears.
LETTERS FROM SKYE is just that, a wonderful novel written in the form of letters. Letters to and from David and Elspeth, and later, Margaret's correspondence to her pilot, and, when her mother vanishes, to the relatives she's never met. The blossoming affection between Elspeth and David is sweet and poignant as the years go by. Their growing honesty with each other and the confusion Elspeth experiences is beautifully written.
Short and profoundly moving, LETTERS FROM SKYE is delightful. I loved it.