This book is more character- and context-driven than plot-driven, so if you're looking for a page-turner leave it on the shelf. While the characters were interesting conceived they were poorly developed. In the context of the lack of plot and characters that I did not care about, the poignant writing about the horrors of WW2 felt hollow. Overall, a dull read that I would not recommend.
I really loved this book. The writing was so dense, for a while I would only read a chapter at a time, like pieces of good chocolate. Towards the end I couldn't help rushing to the end (thus eating the whole box!) Highly recommended.
A hauntingly told story of how individuals cope with day-to-day life under the threat or reality of war, set in the days before the USA entered World War II. A radio reporter travels through occupied Europe; an American physician volunteers in London; a postmaster and her small Cape Cod community wait, watch, and listen. Even without the clever set-the-stage introduction, these characters and this story would have seemed real.
After reading other reviews, I am not sure why I loved this book. It was sometimes disjointed, but I felt the difference between the hardships of Europe and the ambivalence of the U.S. right before the war was realistic. I thought the author could have done a better job with how Emma found out her husband was dead. The whole premise of the start of the book was that the Postmaster had not done her job by keeping a letter secret. The last chapter was a little off, like the author had written it first as a goal to achieve. Despite this, I found the book gripping and I read it in a couple of days.
This story about war and the human spirit ranges from a small town on Cape Cod to the London blitz and the mass evacuations of Jews across Europe from the fall of 1940 to fall 1942. Three stories mingle to create this thought-provoking tale a Cape Cod postmistress, a local doctor and his wife, and Frankie Bard, a female war correspondent broadcasting nightly from London with Edward R. Murrow as the Nazis rain bombs over the city. Although there is not a single battle or soldier fighting in the book, its one of the most heartfelt stories of war Ive ever read. And, it resonates as much today as it did in the 1940s.
There are many novels and films whose plots will fit easily on the back of an envelope. Most of them fill in the spaces with lots of action or car crashes. This one does not; instead we we are smothered in more detail than is necessary to explain the plot. Believe you me, it was about enough to make me scream or at least take a stern red pencil to the pages of the novel.
A small-town doctor suffers guilt after a patient dies in childbirth. Said patient should have known enough to get to a doctor or hospital when her water broke, but that is an issue not addressed. This part of the story was much too drawn out, in my opinion. So anyway, the good and decent Dr. Fitch leaves his young wife to volunteer his services in London at the height of the Blitz.
I was going to say that the story follows two women in the days before the United States got involved in World War Two. But on second thought, there are actually three. The young wife of the above doctor, named Emma. The postmistress in the same small town that Dr and Mrs Fitch live in; her name is Iris James. Then Frankie Bard, the radio reporter who gets a minute or two on Edward R. Murrow's broadcasts to relate her stories.
The basic plot is that Dr. Fitch leaves a letter in the care of Postmaster James in case of his demise to give to Emma. But since the doc is overseas on his own, no one is responsible to report whether he is missing or not. The postmaster does receive a letter from Fitch's landlady in London, saying that he seems to be missing, but that letter is not delivered.
Well, needless to say the doc buys the farm fairly early in the novel. By chance, Frankie scoops up his last unmailed letter to his wife, intending to mail it to Mrs. Fitch. But Frankie is about to spend three weeks in France and Germany, riding the rails and recording people's stories. She never mails it, but after a rest, travels to the Fitch's hometown to hand deliver it.
Well! Is she ever stunned to realize that no one has told Mrs. Fitch that she is a widow. She never delivers the letter, but the postmaster finally delivers the doctor's letter that he had entrusted to her safekeeping.
I really enjoyed this book,the perspectives of the main characters were so different. It gave you such an unusual look into how each of them related to the war and how it would and does affect them. The beginning of the book makes alot more sense at the end of the book. So I would recommend re-reading the prologue after you finish it. A really enjoyable book.
This is my opinion only but I found this book to be very BORING! I read through Chapter 3 and just couldn't get into the book. The author used many, many, many words to say nothing interesting. I was extremely disappointed.
This book about the last year before the US entered WW II is centered on Cape Cod and London....
It started out strong, but then somewhere in the middle it seemed to keep on "skipping" about things that the reader might like to know. By the end I was wondering if the author just wanted to get to the end, maybe she had a limit of how many pages or words she was allowed to submit. It left me wondering what happened to some of the characters.
Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible weight... It is 1940. France has fallen. Bombs are dropping on London. And President Roosevelt is promising he won't send our boys to fight in foreign wars. But American radio gal Frankie Bard, the first woman to report from the Blitz in London, wants nothing more than to bring the war home. Frankie's radio dispatches crackle across the Atlantic ocean, imploring listeners to pay attention -- as the Nazis bomb London nightly, and Jewish refugees stream across Europe. Frankie is convinced that if she can just get the right story, it will wake Americans to action and they will join the fight.
Meanwhile, in Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James hears Frankie's broadcasts and knows that it is only a matter of time before the war arrives on Franklin's shores. In charge of the town's mail, Iris believes that her job is to deliver and keep people's secrets, passing along the news that letters carry. And one secret she keeps are her feelings for Harry Vale, the town mechanic, who inspects the ocean daily, searching in vain for German U-boats he is certain will come. Two single people in midlife, Iris and Harry long ago gave up hope of ever being in love, yet they find themselves unexpectedly drawn toward each other.
Listening to Frankie as well are Will and Emma Fitch, the town's doctor and his new wife, both trying to escape a fragile childhood and forge a brighter future. When Will follow's Frankie's siren call into the war, Emma's worst fears are realized. Promising to return in six months, Will goes to London to offer his help, and the lives of the three women entwine.
Alternating between an America still cocooned in its inability to grasp the danger at hand and a Europe being torn apart by war, The Postmistress gives us two women who find themselves unable to deliver the news, and a third woman desperately waiting for news yet afraid to hear it.
Sarah Blake's The Postmistress shows how we bear the fact that war goes on around us while ordinary lives continue. Filled with stunning parallels to today, it is a remarkable novel.
After reading many of the mixed reviews of this book I was hesitant to read it. It has sat on my shelf since 2011. I finally picked it up and boy am I glad I did. This book grabbed me, pulled at my heartstrings and wouldn't let go. It is a WWII story that is quite different from those I've read before.
It is set in 1941 before the US has entered the war and focuses on three different American women. Two of the women live on Cape Cod and the third is a reporter who travels to London during The Blitz and then on to parts of Europe where she experiences and reports on the evacuation of the many Jews during this time. She tells stories of many individuals but she never knows how the story ends. She reports and then moves on to the next story. "A story like a snapshot is caught, held for a moment, then delivered. But the people in them go on and on. And what happens next? What happens?" Not knowing haunted her. The women living on Cape Cod are the postmistress who has a need to keep everything in order and a young insecure doctor's wife who is forced to find her way in the world alone. Their lives unfold throughout the novel slowly uniting the three of them.
This is a story that shows how war disrupts order and leaves loose threads that don't make sense individually but collectively they do. It is a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel.
My rating was knocked down by 1/2 star because I felt the ending, although decent, was rushed.
A favorite quote:
"Whatever is coming does not just come, as you say. It's helped by people willfully looking away. People who develop the habit of swallowing lies rather than the truth. The minute you start thinking something else, then you've stopped paying attention ---and paying attention is all we've got."
"If the world had paid more attention in 1939,..... maybe we wouldn't be sitting here in the dark, dodging bombs"