The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Publication Date: February 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Historical Fiction
(Received for review from TLC Tours)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Sarah Blake on the WEB: Website
Excerpt from The Postmistress
In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal, Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say - for example, that Emma Trask has come to marry the town's doctor, and that Harry Vale watches the ocean for U-boats. Iris believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.
Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But Iris and Emma and Frankie know better...
The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds - one shattered by violence, the other willfully naive - and of the two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.
Sarah Blake's hardcover masterpiece, The Postmistress is now being released in paperback to a whole new audience. Blake's powerful story of three women facing the effects of war will captivate the reader and touch their innermost being. It explores the idea of how the war is made real to those who are an ocean away from the fighting. This novel shows the feeling of disconnectedness that occurred in WWII and some will believe that it mirrors that same feeling in today's war on terror. Readers will be unable to put this one down as they follow the story of the local postmistress, the young doctor's wife, and the female war correspondent.
It's 1940 and World War II is raging in Europe but back in the states people go on living their everyday lives in most cases completely naive about what's going on beyond the shores. War correspondent Frankie Bard has convinced renowned radio journalist Edward R. Murrow to let her take a voice recorder to Europe to tell the stories of the people there and what they are facing. Back in the states, the sleepy coastal town of Franklin, Massachusetts isn't completely oblivious. The town's young doctor and his new wife, listen to Frankie's broadcasts and know that war is coming and soon. When the doctor decides to go over seas to help those in need during the Blitz, his only contact with is beloved wife, Emma is through long letters. Iris James, the town postmistress takes her job seriously and she is the go-between for the young couple until one day Iris reads one of the letters and can't bring herself to deliver it. Frankie is headed home with another letter from the doctor, but both she and Iris must decide how or if they can bring Emma the news...
There are so many things that can be said about this wonderful book. Sarah Blake has crafted a novel that will settle into the hearts of readers in a way that few books do. Leaving the reader feeling as if they stood with Iris in the post office with the letter in her shaking hands, or rode the train with Frankie as she talked to the Jewish people fleeing the Nazi's.
John Cheever once said that "...a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of the battle..." Sarah Blake's book is embraces that idea. Readers will be drawn so far in that they will feel Emma's heartbreak when she doesn't hear from her husband. They will feel Harry's desperation as he searches the ocean for U-boats. I have often said the real achievement of an author is to make the reader feel something, whether is it fear, desire, sadness... if a book can do that, the author has succeeded and Sarah Blake certainly has.
The Postmistress is essentially about the intersecting lives of three women and how the decisions they make affect more than just themselves. It's about the decision of doing what's right or what's easy. It's about burying our heads in the sand or standing up for what we believe. I think the feelings of the townspeople in this book run a parallel to how people feel about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. So many people feel unaffected by the stories they hear on the news. It isn't affecting their daily lives and they can't seem to empathize with those it does. This book examines the affect of the news on the population of a country that is somewhat removed from the fighting. I thought the author did an excellent job of giving the reader a glimpse into what that was like in World War II. But, she also shows that even though the townspeople didn't think it was affecting them it really was in ways they could not even imagine.
The characters are very well developed and each one of these women offers something different for the reader. Frankie, the self assured and confident woman who was willing to jeopardize her own life to bring the news to the American people. Iris, the faithful postmistress who knew so much about everyone in her town and was vigilant to bring them the letters that held their secrets, their dreams and the their hopes for the future. And Emma the young wife, who had to sit at home and wait and wait and wait for news. That dreadful sense of not knowing whether her husband lived or died, radiated of the pages of this book and will get into the hearts of everyone who reads it. It is a very emotional read that readers will be moved by and that they will remember long after the last page is finished.
I recommend this book to all of my readers, whether you are a historical fiction fan or not, this isn't a book you want to miss. This would be great for book clubs, women's groups, the historical reader, the war reader and so many more. This is easily one of the best books I have read in very long time and that's saying something.
The Postmistress is NOW available in paperback from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Sarah Blake is the author of the novel Grange House as well as The Postmistress. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their two sons.
I'm really excited about this one and can't wait for you to read it!
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Posted by justpeachy36 at 12:04 PM