Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake provides a fresh new look at love and loss, life and death in the early days of World War II. It's a powerful treatise on the side effects and emotional turmoil of war that touches everyone. The story jumps between the residents of a small town on Cape Cod who believe the war doesn't affect them and a female radio broadcaster in London who tries to convince them it does. Eventually their lives intertwine in surprising ways proving that no one goes untouched in wartime.

The story follows the lives of three women in the early 1940s. The very proper Miss Iris James is the postmistress in Franklin, Mass. Iris is all business but one day she does the unthinkable and doesn't deliver a letter. The fragile newcomer in town is Emma who marries Will Fitch, the local doctor. Iris and Emma listen to Frankie Bard on the radio. Frankie is an American war correspondent in London. She's working with Edward R. Murrow broadcasting her impressions of the war to the people back in the U.S. When America is drawn into the war, the lives of these three women come to a head.

Although Blake appears to have done her research on the war years, this is not a story about battles and soldiers. It's a story about the people at home, their attitudes and how the war effects them. The story doesn't always flow smoothly and it unfolds slowly. I didn't really become involved until I read several chapters. Once I did I enjoyed the book. The situations are emotional, but I found it hard to connect with most of the characters. It might be due to the head-hopping which is disorienting to me. At times, the author switches the point of view from one character's head into another, sometimes in the same paragraph, making it tough to get attached to them. The book is called The Postmistress but I thought Frankie was the focal character and easier to relate to. She gives readers a good view of the atrocities happening in Europe - the bombings, death and the refugees. Despite the flaws, the story is thought provoking and captivating in parts. The author does bring the time period alive and she captures the war atmosphere, the desperation of the refugees and the attitudes and complacence of the Americans. It's well worth a read.

Publisher: Putnam Adult (February 9, 2010)

ISBN: 978-0399156199

Hardcover: 336 pages

Price: $25.95

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