This book was fabulous! I am so happy that I listened to my friends and "read" the audiobook version of it - the Scottish accents were lovely to hear in my ear. All of the narrators were spot-on. Both the narrators and Jessica Brockmole made this book an experience I will remember for a very long time!
Letters from Skye is a beautifully written debut novel. While I have some minor criticisms (a man as in love with Elspeth as David is likely would be much less cavalier about the loss of their child, for instance, if for no other reason than his concern for how that event would affect the woman he loved), I found the novel to be wholly engrossing and thought the approach of telling the story through correspondence revealed the characters' hearts and yearnings in a way other techniques could not have. I very much look forward to reading more from Jessica Brockmole.
One of my only 5 star reviews. This entire story is revealed to us via letters. Hand and heart to pen and paper missives, before cell phones and texting, before skyping and Facebook, in the days when people slung ink to share their sentiments. A fan writes a poet. A mother writes a daughter. A lover writes his forbidden married mistress. A niece writes both her RAAF fly boy and her uncle. A Gaelic grandmother writes nearly no one. I approached this book wearily. I was apprehensive about reading letter after letter...The idea was droll, I thought perhaps the story would take forever to reveal itself. Indeed NOT. I picked up this book at 2am this Sunday morning, thinking I would begin, read a letter or two to glean the flavor, an aid for sleep. Alas, I unintentionally stayed up all through the next 4 and half hours of the chilly morning, flying through all 300+ pages of this amazing tale to it's burning ending. I was intoxicated. We follow a 28 year old woman's story where it begins in 1912, on the lip of World War I, and learn the circumstances of her life as it unfolds in new letters at the beginning of WWII. The new war has stirred the memories, has awakened the beast, has re-opened the wounds of her festering heart. She is a fisherman's daughter, residing on the sliver by the sea on the Isle of Skye. She has a form of agoraphobia, only she isn't afraid to leave her house, she is afraid to leave her island, she is terrified to cross the water. I guess it is best to say she has a form of aquaphobia. So she lives her life as boldly as she can on her island. She skulks around in mens trousers, when no one is looking. She loathes the stereotypes of 'the perfect woman', in that she is not driven to breed, has no interest in cooking (other than an excellent Christmas Pudding) and at 17 has already become a published poetress. Ah scandal. Love her! She is bright and open, witty, clever and good. But over the years of missives her safeguards change, her heart is altered and new, unconventional aspirations begin to tattoo upon her skin. She is asked to be more honest, more courageous. More. We have women with babies, women speaking gaelic, women wanting to be geologists and lots of men. Men who disapprove, men who fight wars, men with missing legs. Men with unverbalized jealously, men who speak with their fists, men who paint horses blue and ride cows up collegiate American library stairs. Bombs, blitzes, repose. Fairies, seashells and thatched roofs. Missed trains, passionate telegrams and undeclared children. The letters hoof their way through airmail from Skye to Paris; London to Chicago. Secrets admitted, desires exposed, grieves revealed, curiosities divulged. A love story to love. My heart pounded for not turning the page fast enough to see the next letter, to hear the reply. Scoffing aloud, weeping silently, shaking my head. Grinning frowning. mmm. A simply fantastic storytelling experience.
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