United by letters, Separated by an ocean, Devastated by war, through their letters they became the people they wanted to be.
This breath-taking fiction novel tells the tale of Elspeth Dunn from the secluded Isle of Skye and David Graham from Urbana Illinois and of the growth of their love during the traumas of the First World War. Woven into the chapters is the story of Margaret and Paul during the Second World War whose love is cautioned by Margaret’s illusive mother living with the haunting ghosts of her unknown past.
Firstly I have to say that the style of writing is very unique as the story is actually told through the letters that the characters send to each other. As each set of narrators recount their days to one another through their letters, we learn of their lives, of their journeys dealing with love, loss, hope and destruction and of their quests searching for, new love, forgiveness, hope and the identity of who they really are.
One thing that peeked my interest when first reading this book was finding out that my first assumption about the title was very wrong. The letters in question were in fact not from a persona beholding the name in the title but rather from a place with the name of ‘Skye’. I don’t know about you but that sort of urged me to read on.
The diction used is very unique to urban writing and is reminiscent of the times when literature and the modern world as we know it were developing amidst the chaos of war and devastation. It includes really breath-taking vocabulary that would make Shakespeare proud!
The prevailing theme of the novel is obviously love. The true, undying kind of love found in fairy tales that comes from knowing everything about a person and loving them for all their flaws. The kind of love that crosses oceans, knows no boundaries and will do anything to find where it is mean to be. Basically the kind of love we all dream of having!
The characters we read about and grow to love are obviously fictitious but I have to admit to a contented sigh that escaped me when they finally did get the happy ending they deserved in the end after all the pain they were made to go through. But nonetheless the events so vividly described are all too real and this realization adds to the thought-provoking aspect of the story. All the devastation and cruelty that occurred around our narrators really did plague the world once not too long ago. And I’m pretty sure that back then there did live real-life Elspeths and Davids who were connected by war in some way only to be ripped apart and never aloud their happy endings. Most of these people on the other hand probably ended up living lives full of questions never to be answered.
This got me thinking about how fortunate we all are nowadays to have what we do and to be surrounded by those we love. Many of us will never have to go through the turmoil of the twentieth century because of what was sacrificed for us back then. So this book’s deeper message to me is that we must all be grateful for the luxuries we have now!
But back to the actual book, which has been written in such a very personal way that it seems as if the letters have been written to us, the readers, and we feel the pain and longing that is being put across. The plot itself is not as monotonous as it may come across to be because it is actually full of various unseen twists and turns. One moment the author has us thinking we understand what’s going on but the next we’re finding out the truth about the situation which was hidden before to protect the hearts of loved ones.
This book is not only a great way to awaken the hopeless romantic in all of us but even spike the deep analyst if that’s the way your particular mind works! I can assure you that this book will not disappointed!
5 out of 5 no doubt about that!