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 friend–turned–Royal 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.