Friday, January 28, 2011

The Postmistress [novel]

I ended up reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake because I discovered I could actually borrow eBooks from our local library -- but nearly everything had an insane waiting list and this was one of the few books that I had heard of that didn't have a long wait. I'd heard it compared to The Help as a wonderful debut novel by a female writer. Plus I had just read The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and was in WWII frame of mind. (I decided not to review that book since Lisa did a great job of it last year, but I really loved it as well!)

The Postmistress centers on the lives of three female characters at the start of WWII: Frankie, one of the few female war correspondents reporting from Europe; Iris, the Postmistress in the small vacation town of Franklin, Massachusetts; and Emma, the young wife of Franklin's town doctor.

It took a good 1/3 of the book trying to figure out the characters. It opens up with the question "what if the Postmistress didn't deliver the mail?"But the title (and the opening question) is a bit misleading, because the main character is definitely Frankie, the war correspondent, trying to be objective about the war while experiencing the bombings of London and the fleeing of Jews throughout Europe. She desperately wants to get people in America to care about what is happening. Her journey through Europe in the middle third of the book is the strongest part of the story to me.

Over on the other side of the Atlantic, people in the small town of Franklin listen to Frankie over the radio, and pretty much go on about their daily lives. However, the young doctor, Emma's husband, after losing a patient, feels driven by one of Frankie's broadcasts to go over to London to help out. It's because of this that the fates of Frankie, Emma, and Iris cross.

Unfortunately, the question that the author posed at the beginning and probably wanted to be the main theme of the story, struck me as the weakest section. The question of, is it better to tell someone the truth no matter how bad or let them go on hoping, just didn't work for me. I found that part to be clich├ęd and uninteresting. I didn't care much for Emma and Iris at all.

But Frankie's story in the midst of the war was captivating, suspenseful and heartbreaking. It's enough to recommend the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment