I didn't jump on the Letters from Skye bandwagon. Thus, I didn't realize that Jessica Brockmole was such an excellent writer until I read her short story Something Worth Landing For in Fall of Poppies. In that same anthology, I learned of the Red Cross clinic that made life-like masks for soldiers with destroyed faces. After reading those tales, I wanted to read this one. I've also ordered Letters from Skye because Ms. Brockmole is a master with romance and character banter. The connection she forms between her heroes and heroines is amazing.
The summer these two spend together--the teenage boy who loves tennis and the young orphan girl just entering the confused stages of adulthood--is magical. The telling of it is magical. We are planted right there in the scenes. We feel their love, hope, confusion, dream their dreams. Then they are split. And this is where the story loses something. It felt to me that the magic was only there when the characters were together. Apart, living separate lives that really have nothing to do with each other, the story lost its interest somewhat. This could be due to Ms. Brockmole's excellent writing of character dialogue and connection and banter. I believe the readers enjoy those bits so much that we feel deprived of them when the characters are apart.
Claire's parts COULD have been intriguing. She was off traveling the world, learning many things, but her life away from him is summed up so quickly, in a few memories, conversations with her grandfather, and letters to Luc. Luc's war parts were gritty and sad, as to be expected. He learns lessons the hard way--through traumatic life experiences.
I especially enjoyed the making of the mask and how Claire helps him heal inside from what has happened to him. There was a moment there I doubted they'd have their HEA. I was kept in suspense. I appreciate this about the novel too--that it wasn't overly predictable. I also love that a physically "flawed" character finds love just the way he is. He doesn't have to be "healed" or "fixed" first as so many authors tend to do when writing about disabled or disfigured characters. They "fix" them (not emotionally but make the deaf hear again, blind see again, or get them new faces somehow) before they find love.
A solid read. I can't wait to read more by this author.