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Letters from Skye : a novel / Jessica Brockmole.

By: Brockmole, Jessica.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2013]Edition: First edition.Description: 290 pages ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780345542601 (hardcover : alk. paper); 0345542606 (hardcover : alk. paper).Subject(s): Friendship -- Fiction | Letter writing -- FictionGenre/Form: Historical fiction. | War stories. | Romance fiction. | Epistolary fiction.DDC classification: 813/.6
"United by letters. Separated by an ocean. Devastated by war." --Cover. -A love story told in letters spans two world wars and follows the correspondence between a poet on the Scottish Isle of Skye and an American volunteer ambulance driver for the French Army, an affair that is discovered years later when the poet disappears.
Summary: A love story told in letters spans two world wars and follows the correspondence between a poet on the Scottish Isle of Skye and an American volunteer ambulance driver for the French Army, an affair that is discovered years later when the poet disappears.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:


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

"United by letters. Separated by an ocean. Devastated by war." --Cover. -A love story told in letters spans two world wars and follows the correspondence between a poet on the Scottish Isle of Skye and an American volunteer ambulance driver for the French Army, an affair that is discovered years later when the poet disappears.

A love story told in letters spans two world wars and follows the correspondence between a poet on the Scottish Isle of Skye and an American volunteer ambulance driver for the French Army, an affair that is discovered years later when the poet disappears.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Chapter One Elspeth Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A. March 5, 1912 Dear Madam, I hope you won't think me forward, but I wanted to write to express my admiration for your book, From an Eagle's Aerie. I'll admit, I'm not usually a guy for poetry. More often, I can be found with a dog-eared copy of Huck Finn or something else involving mortal peril and escape. But something in your poems touched me more than anything has in years. I've been in the hospital, and your little book cheered me better than the nurses. Especially the nurse with the mustache like my uncle Phil's. She's also touched me more than anything has in years, though in a much less exciting way. Generally I'm pestering the doctors to let me up and about so I can go back to my plotting. Just last week I painted the dean's horse blue, and I had hoped to bestow the same on his terrier. But with your book in hand, I'm content to stay as long as they keep bringing the orange Jell-O. Most of your poems are about tramping down life's fears and climbing that next peak. As you can probably guess, there are few things that shake my nerves (apart from my hirsute nurse and her persistent thermometer). But writing a letter, uninvited, to a published author such as yourself--this feels by far my most daring act. I am sending this letter to your publisher in London and will cross my fingers that it finds its way to you. And if I can ever repay you for your inspiring poetry--by painting a horse, for example--you only have to say the word. With much admiration, David Graham Isle of Skye 25 March, 1912 Dear Mr. Graham, You should have seen the stir in our tiny post office, everyone gathered to watch me read my first letter from a "fan," as you Americans would say. I think the poor souls thought no one outside our island had ever laid eyes on my poetry. I don't know which was more thrilling to them--that someone had indeed read one of my books or that the someone was an American. You're all outlaws and cowboys, aren't you? I myself admit to some surprise that my humble little works have fled as far as America. From an Eagle's Aerie is one of my more recent books, and I wouldn't have thought it had time to wing across the ocean yet. However you've acquired it, I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one who's read the blasted thing. In gratitude, Elspeth Dunn Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A. April 10, 1912 Dear Miss Dunn, I don't know which made me giddier--to hear that From an Eagle's Aerie was among your "most recent books" or to get a response at all from such an esteemed poet. Surely you're too busy counting meter or compiling a list of scintillating synonyms (brilliant, sparkling, dazzling synonyms). Me, I spend my days robbing banks with the James Gang and the other outlaws and cowboys. I was sent your book by a friend of mine who is up at Oxford. To my shock and dismay, I have not seen your works in print here in the United States. Even a thorough search of my university library turned up nothing. Now that I know you have others lurking on the bookstore shelves, I will have to appeal to my pal to send more. I was astonished to read that mine was your first "fan" letter. I was sure it would be just one in a stack, which is why I went to such pains to make it fascinating and witty. Perhaps other readers haven't been as bold (or perhaps as impulsive?) as I. Regards, David Graham P.S. Wherever is the Isle of Skye? Isle of Skye 1 May, 1912 Mr. Graham, You don't know where my lovely isle is? Ridiculous! That would be like me saying I've never heard of Urbana, Illinois. My isle is off the northwest coast of Scotland. A wild, pagan, green place of such beauty that I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Enclosed is a picture of Peinchorran, where I live, with my cottage nestled between the hills around the loch. I'll have you know that, in order to draw this for you, I had to hike around the loch, trudge up the sheep path on the opposite hill, and find a patch of grass not covered by heather or sheep excreta. I'll expect you to do likewise when you send me a picture of Urbana, Illinois. Do you lecture in Urbana? Study? I'm afraid I don't know what it is that Americans do at university. Elspeth Dunn P.S. By the way, it's "Mrs. Dunn." Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A. June 17, 1912 Dear Mrs. Dunn (please excuse my presumption!), You draw as well as write such magnificent poetry? The picture you sent is sublime. Is there nothing you can't do? As I can't draw worth a dime, I'm sending a few picture postcards instead. One is the auditorium at the university; the second is the tower on the library building. Not bad, huh? Illinois is probably as different from the Isle of Skye as a place could be. Not a mountain in sight. Once I leave campus, just corn as far as the eye can see. I suppose I do what any collegiate American does: study, eat too much pie, torment the dean and his horse. I'm finishing up my studies in natural sciences. My father hopes I'll enter medical school and join him in his practice one day. I'm not as certain about my future as he seems to be. For now, I'm just trying to make it through my last year of college with my sanity intact! David Graham Isle of Skye 11 July, 1912 Mr. Graham, "Is there nothing you can't do?" you ask. Well, I can't dance. Or tan leather. Or make barrels or shoot a harpoon. And I'm not particularly good at cooking. Can you believe I burned soup the other day? But I can sing fairly well, shoot a straight shot from a rifle, play the cornet (can't we all?), and I'm something of an amateur geologist. And, although I couldn't cook a decent roast lamb if my life depended on it, I make a marvellous Christmas pudding. Forgive my frankness, but why devote all of your time (and sanity) towards an area of study that doesn't grip your very soul? If I had had a chance to go to university, I wouldn't have spent even a moment on a subject that didn't interest me. I should love to think I would've spent my university days reading poetry, as there's no better way to pass the time, but after so many years masquerading as a "real poet," there likely isn't much a professor could teach me now. No, as unladylike as it sounds, I would have studied geology. My older brother Finlay is always out on the water and brings me rocks smooth from the ocean. I can't help but wonder where they came from and how they washed up on the Western Isles. There, now you know my secret wishes! I shall have to take your firstborn child in exchange. Or I suppose I could settle for a secret of your own. If you weren't studying natural science, what would you be studying? What do you wish you could be doing with your life above all? Elspeth Excerpted from Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

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 fiance 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

It's 1912 and David, an American college student, sends a fan letter to Elspeth, a young Scottish poet on the Isle of Skye. What begins as cordial correspondence grows into friendship and soon love with WWI as a backdrop. Elspeth is married, however, and David eventually volunteers as an ambulance driver, leaving Elspeth alone to wait and wonder. Flash forward to 1940 Edinburgh, where Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, has fallen in love with a young man going off to war. Nothing Elspeth says can dissuade Margaret from marrying. After an air raid, Elspeth disappears, and Margaret discovers the letters from David, which launches her on a mission to find out just what happened those many years ago. Told exclusively via letters between lovers, mother and daughter, and husband and wife, Brockmole's novel will make readers feel that they're illicitly reading someone's diary. But the letter convention has its drawbacks. It's difficult to get a full sense of who these characters are beyond what is written in their letters, which leaves them, at times, flat and two-dimensional.--Kubisz, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

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 friendturnedRoyal 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.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.