The Postmistress: Book Review

21 Feb

Have I mentioned that I have a Kindle?  My husband bought me one last March as a surprise and I love it.  Best purchase he/I ever made.  I thought I would miss the feeling of reading real books but I don’t!  How cool is it to download a sample of a book to see if you’ll like it and then be able to download the rest when you decide that you do!  Instantaneous book shopping from the comfort of your bed.  But sometimes this sample thing backfires.

It kind of did when I bought The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate the book. But I was disappointed with it. I downloaded the sample and the first chapter starts out with a woman starting to tell a story.  And she asks the people around her what they would think about a postmistress during World War II who decided not to deliver a letter.  The people were all in shock.  During those times, letters were how you communicated and information was passed.

At this point, I was hooked. I didn’t bother reading the rest of the sample, I immediately bought the book on my Kindle and dove in.  And then I waited and waited and waited for this pivotal point where the postmistress decides not to deliver a letter.  And then when it came, it was so anti-climactic.  I was imaging her stopping letters from spies or something war-related and it was so not about that at all.  Now, this isn’t to say that the book wasn’t good! Because I thought it was!

Set during World War II times, it tells the story of Frankie Bard, a female journalist in London covering the war.  She works with Edward Murrow and reports back to America about the Blitz and what is going on in London.  And because of a friend, she starts to get interested in what is happening to the Jews in Europe. 

The other part of the story takes place in a town in Cape Cod where the postmistress is very particular about how her job gets done and following the rules of the US Postal Service.  In a way, she knows a lot about the people’s lives because she sees their mail every day.  She is particularly involved in Emma Fitch’s life.  Emma is the young doctor’s wife and after the doctor loses a patient, he goes to London to help in the hospitals during the Blitz.  Emma goes to the post office every day to pick up a letter from him and fears that one day there will be no letter.

There are other interesting characters and while I enjoyed being a part of their lives for a bit, I felt disappointed in the end.  It didn’t all come together as I had hoped and I left myself wondering what happened to the people.  Perhaps this was the author’s intent though.   A recurring theme in the book is that Frankie and her audience don’t know what happen to people after she reports on them.  For example, while she is in Europe, she goes to Germany and France with a portable recorder and starts recording the Jews who are travelling on the trains but never knows what happens to them when they leave the train.  So maybe the author meant to leave us wondering about these people in this town because once they are out of our sight, we don’t know what happens to them.

I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if not for the preface that made me expect a completely different kind of book.  But then maybe I wouldn’t have been so sucked into the story had that preface not been included.


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