Perhaps I should preface this by saying that I am out in the country writing this, in a vacation state of mind. As a fan of historical fiction, I particularly love to read novels that take place in wartime, and this novel has all of that — told in parts by two women narrators, during the first and second world wars. But I have to be honest; this is not really a book about war, or even historical fiction for that matter. But it is certainly a book about the power of words; a story told completely in letters. During World War 1, poet Elspeth Dunn receives her first fan letter, which traveled all the way to the Isle of Skye from Urbana, Illinois. Many years later, this correspondence continues to affect the lives of many different people. In a time when nobody seems to write a letter anymore, I found this novel hopeful; a reminder of how much can happen when words are put on paper, sealed up, and mailed to far-off destinations.
I loved the format, because it kept out all of the unnecessary fluff; no extraneous description, no weather reports, etc. If it wouldn’t sound right in a letter, it is not here. The plot has some interesting twists, but this is not a mystery. The ending, at least for me, was not a surprise, and not a disappointment despite its predictability. So when I finished it late last night, I was not surprised it made me cry, though I knew long before the last page what was going to happen. It was a satisfying sort of cry, and besides, I’m on vacation.