This book took me a little while to read, though not through any fault of its own. I've been in a not-reading place for the last several weeks, and I haven't read much of anything at all. This book is actually a very quick read (when I don't find myself distracted by other things), especially considering the epistolary format. The letters lend to the feeling of super speedy progress, and there's enough back and forth that it feels like a breeze to read.
I will admit that I felt that the two main characters' 'voices' were very similar, and were it not for the addressee/signee on each of the letters, and the content of many of them, I may not have always known who was writing. Perhaps this was intentional, to show how similarity of interest allowed their love to blossom through the letters, but it did feel a little TOO similar at times, despite, or maybe even because of their personalities being so very different.
I actually identified a lot with this book. I could have been Elspeth if I were born in a different era and place... well, and if I didn't hate poetry. What I mean is that my boyfriend and I met through the correspondence of our time - the internet. He and I are very different people. I'm something of a homebody, bookish, responsible girl, and he's something of a social and artistic whirlwind of activity. I like quiet and solitude, he likes noise and chaos.
So yeah, I identified with the characters in this book. That helped me to appreciate it, I think, because I'm not really much for romance reading. I wanted more of the grittiness of the wars that Elspeth and Davey lived through mixed in to their love letters. I wanted to really feel that they were affected - but they seemed to sit right outside it. There were parts of this book that were gut-wrenching, and I will admit that it got me to tear up a few times. They had their hits, but it felt like they got off extremely light at times.
I also liked how the past and present letters were used to progress the story. The use of present-day letters to foreshadow the past was done very well, and the transitions between the sections of past and present were paced perfectly to create suspense and urgency. Very well done there.
Overall, this was a lovely story about how one can love a person they've never even seen based on their mind and heart. It's true, it happens.
Thanks to Random House for offering pre-release copies of this book to my Historical Fictionistas group.