Friday 28 June 2013

Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

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. (via Goodreads)

I can't remember having read a novel consisting entirely of letters, so that was what attracted me to Letters from Skye. Unfortunately, though, my initial enthusiasm waned as I progressed through the pages.

Brockmole uses a lot of short sentences and repetition to try and create certain effects
(such as suspense), but it didn't work for me. I also found it difficult to believe most of the letters – they seemed too casual and I felt little bond between many of the characters. This was particularly true of Margeret's letters to her pilot, where I detected no passion towards him. It seemed as though she was only confiding thoughts and events without any real feeling.

Additionally, many of the character's voices sounded too similar and the contents of the letters were, at times, rather dull. The only thing which kept me reading forward was the desire to see how everything would work out between Elspeth and David – would they find their way back to each other? So, I guess that part of Letters from Skye was positive, and at the very least I could identify their connection.

But even so, I feel as if this novel could have been so much better had it been written differently. A disappointing read.

Rating: 2 / 5