I must be one of the few who still hadn’t read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I’ve read such mixed reviews of this novel that I was a bit hesitant to read it but I always like to make up my own mind and I’m so glad I do because I really liked this book! I started it on Saturday and was done Sunday morning – although I found the very beginning a bit slow, it wasn’t long before I just couldn’t put it down until I reached the end and knew the outcome for everyone.
The Postmistress takes place in 1940/1941 and the story weaves between Franklin, Massachusetts on Cape Cod and war-torn Europe and really focuses on the lives of three women. Iris James is new to Franklin, having become the Postmistress there and she takes her job with the utmost seriousness not to mention her growing attraction to Harry. Emma Trask is also new to Franklin, having married the local doctor Will and then there’s Frankie Bard, one of the first female journalists to cover the war.
The women’s lives end up interwoven together because of one man, the doctor – Will Fitch, Emma’s husband. Will and Emma are newly married and very happy until a tragedy occurs that greatly affects how Will sees himself. He’s lost and his reaction is to pick up and travel to war-torn London to offer his services as a doctor there, leaving Emma behind. Frankie Bard, at one point, meets Will in an underground bomb shelter and when they leave the next day, Frankie’s fate is sealed and she’s connected to Emma through Will.
Iris is an interesting character. Being postmistress of a smaller community she basically has her hand on the pulse of everything going on there. In the 1940’s there wasn’t any other communication other than letters and of course the phone but back in that day, the mail was a big thing. Iris prides herself though on not snooping into anyone’s business. She sorts the mail and puts it where it needs to go yet at the same time she keeps an eye on everything going on. That is until the day Will leaves Franklin and entrusts Iris with a letter to give Emma should he not return. As the months wear on and Will is still gone, Iris takes it upon herself to keep her eye on Emma and keep her from any additional stress.
In the meantime Frankie has been sent on an assignment through the war-torn regions. I found these portions of the novel very powerful because she records personal accounts with Europe’s Jews trying to escape the travesties of the war. It is here that Frankie really experiences what the war is and just how terrifying and pointless it is. The lives lost, the families altered forever and as she sees young children lose their parents or the people left behind on the trains, she questions herself and wonders what comes next. Once these people are out of sight, does that mean they are out of mind as well? It shouldn’t and Frankie is deeply affected.
She travels to Franklin with a message for Emma but once there finds a peace that she hasn’t felt in a while and decides to stay a bit. At times she’s frustrated because the people of Franklin, Iris being one of them, hasn’t experienced the terror of war first hand and Frankie is angered by their actions at times. Yet as the war continues raging, the women are drawn together by so much more; tragedy and the need to be human and caring.
Sarah Blake writes beautifully and her words pulse with power. When she is describing the bombings and later with Frankie interviewing people, you can’t help but feel the terror and helplessness. I could feel my heart pound when the bombs were dropping and feel the air whoosh by me as the buildings came down around Frankie. The story of Emma and Iris, maybe not so powerful, but nonetheless emotional, kept me spellbound as well. I wanted the best for everyone in a world where that just may not have been possible. What I think I found most powerful is the idea that while war is raging somewhere, elsewhere people are still eating lunch, shopping or reading a book. It’s easier for us to bear the horrors that may be going on elsewhere in the world by just going on and yet really, deep down this horrifies us that we can’t fix it or make things better for these people. Such are the tragedies that affect our world to this day.
I read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. You can see what others thought of the novel on the other tour stops. Be sure to visit Sarah Blake’s website as well! You can purchase your own copy of The Postmistress by Sarah Blake here in the US and here in Canada.
I have one copy of The Postmistress by Sarah Blake to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
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This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, April 9/11. Good luck everyone!
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My copy of The Postmistress by Sarah Blake was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.