Letters From Skye

Letters From Skye

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2013.
ISBN: 9780345542601
Characteristics: 290 pages ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 11, 2018

A wonderful love story spanning the decades between the First and Second World Wars.

Oct 22, 2017

Beautiful love story that spans two generations and two World Wars. I especially enjoyed the detail and history provided about military rescue ambulance drivers in WWI. My grandfather was a U.S. army medic and ambulance driver, so it was inspirational to learn more details about his service in WWI.

samdog123 Jul 15, 2017

Lovely easy read. The main characters, Elspeth and Davey, fall in love through an exchange of letters. As a young college student, Davey writes to Elspeth and expresses his admiration for her book of poetry. Elspeth, living on the remote island of Skye, responds and so begins a correspondence that begins before the first world war and continues all throughout it. I find books told in letter format very easy and comfortable to read, almost like short stories. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

Mar 02, 2017

I read this book in one afternoon about a year ago and I took it out again today only to finish it again in one sitting. I must say this is one of my favourite books of all time!

ArapahoeLesley Nov 23, 2016

Just a lovely historical fiction novel based on the beautiful Isle of Skye.

ArapahoeKati Nov 15, 2016

This novel will stick with you for a long time. I loved the characters. I loved the letters. I basically want to time travel back to Skye and be in this book.

ArapahoeAlyson Aug 11, 2016

Letters from Skye combines everything I like in fiction - history, characters that really come alive, cross generational tales, a sense of mystery...

May 22, 2016

I enjoyed this moving story of wartime romance between Elspeth--a Scottish poet who lived on the island of Skye--and David, an American student who sent her her first fan letter. The path of their romance throughout the book was extremely predictable, but it was beautifully written. I thought the author did a good job with the epistolary format as well--the letters moved the story along while still sounding natural. The voices of Elspeth and David did read very similarly, though.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 07, 2016

I'm a sucker for both epistolary novels AND books about British people in olden times having romantic problems during wartime, so this was clearly right in my wheelhouse. Brockmole used the epistolary format quite well, and while the storyline in 1940 pales a bit in interest compared to 1912-17 -- which is kind of the point, since the characters in '40 are still dealing with the fallout of the events during WWI -- overall all this is a fast and thoroughly readable book. Brockmole does a good job showing her characters maturing and falling in love gradually -- no easy task to convey solely through letters -- and while the ending is no surprise, and the entire book has a sort of 'read this before' feel to it, it's a lovely read for a winter afternoon.

PimaLib_AmandaB Nov 28, 2015

As a writer, one of the hardest things to do well is compose a book where the plot and character development is composed entirely through correspondence between a handful of central characters. Jessica Brockmole pulls it off with flying colors in this gripping page turner that manages to be lyrical and poetic!

View All Comments


Add a Summary
DanniOcean Sep 02, 2013

An epistolary novel is one written as a series of letters or diary entries. Generally this makes them both quick to read and very tantalizing, as readers become virtual voyeurs into the lives of those penning the letters. Letters from Skye is this kind of novel, and also one that time-shifts to a certain extent. Elspeth Dunn, a poet on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is flattered to get a letter from a fan from America, a young man named Davey. Where Davey has bravado and gumption, Elspeth is spirited but cautious. Where Davey is uncertain of his future, Elspeth knows where she belongs. Yet so begins a long correspondence through which they encourage each other, share dreams and fears, and eventually fall deeply in love. World War I brings Davey to Europe and they are finally able to meet, but with devastating consequences.
A mere 20-odd years later on the eve of World War II, Margaret visits her mother Elspeth in Edinburgh to tell her she and her childhood sweetheart have become engaged, even though Paul has joined up to fight. Elspeth is furious but before Margaret can discern why, the house is nearly destroyed by a bomb and Margaret finds her shocked mother clutching a sheaf of letters from someone named Davey to a woman called Sue. And then... Elspeth disappears.
Elspeth has always hidden part of her past from Margaret, and now Margaret is determined to reach out to relatives she has never met to both find her mother and mend their rift, and discover what it was in her mother's past that made her shut herself off from part of the world. Thus readers are treated to not only Elspeth's full story, but Margaret's discovery of a family, a history and a mother she never really knew.
Although more bittersweet in nature, Letters from Skye is sure to please readers who enjoyed other epistolary novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Society, or novels of deep and enduring love, like Samatha Sotto's Before Ever After.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at MAPL

To Top