Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

Filled with stunning parallels to today's world,
is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.
On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.
The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right

..She kept speaking into the microphone, her eyes on the man across from her, whose fingers had closed on the button. And she started to hum-Da da da Dum....

A line from one of my favorite parts of the book. When I first started reading this book, I had a hard time understanding the writing but after reading Ms. Blakes explanation of why she wrote it the way she did, it all came into perspective. The author intertwines the reporter and the war with the families at home, doing their normal daily routine, not affected by it. The title The Postmistress leaves the question, Who IS the Postmistress? The story set in 1940-41, early World War II, main characters are Emma, newly married to Dr Will Fitch. Iris, the postmaster of the little Cape Cod town. Frankie, a radio news reporter for Edward R Murrow, reporting in London. Dr Will Fitch, the small Cape town doctor, gets the news that Maggie is in labor and goes to her. In the meantime- Frankie Bard finds herself in the middle of the bombing, running for cover, lands in a bomb shelter. What happens to Dr Fitch and to Frankie, changes their lives forever and Iris, the postmaster, does the unthinkable, holding onto a letter, keeping it a secret. This book isn't a shooting, bloody war story its about emotion. About how the people that are not in the war don't want to hear about it, don't want it to affect their life but in the end, if affects everything. It doesn't add up.

My favorite character is Frankie - she a tough-bold reporter, willing to face anything for "the story". My least favorite is Iris - she seems like a snobbish prude. The other players in the story are Harry, the towns "watchman", he believes the Germans are coming and he keeps watch for them. Otto is a quiet man in the town and everyone thinks he's a "Kraut" and the town people are leary of him, thinking he's a spy.
I highly recommend this book! 

About the author:

Born in New York City, Sarah Blake has a BA from Yale University and a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Full Turn (Pennywhistle Press, 1989); an artist book, Runaway Girls \ (Hand Made Press, 1997) in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn; and two novels. Her first novel, Grange House, (Picador, 2000) was named a "New and Noteworthy" paperback in August, 2001 by The New York Times. Her second novel, The Postmistress, was by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam in February 2010. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Good Housekeeping, US News and World Reports, The Chicago Tribun and elsewhere.
Sarah taught high school and college English for many years in Colorado and New York. She has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, MA, The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, the University of Maryland, and George Washington University. She lives in Washington, DC.

The Postmistress   By Sarah Blake


Anonymous said...

I like your review of this book. i think it looks and sounds wonderful!

Natalie W said...

Thanks Sheila! It was a great read.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I have this book on my list! It sounds so good, and your information titillates (LOL) to the point where I can't WAIT to read it.

Anna said...

I've had my eye on this one. It sounds really good. Would it be okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations?

Diary of an Eccentric

Lisa said...

I am really enjoying this book. It's got so many interesting characters and story lines.