By Sarah Blake
Filled with stunning parallels to today’s world, The Postmistress 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.
Even though this started a little slow for me, I was eventually wrapped up in to the storyline and couldn’t put it down. In the beginning, I was trying to figure out how the 3 women characters (Iris the Postmistress, Emma the Dr’s wife and Frankie the War Reporter)were connected and where the novel was going. I stuck with it and became intrigued with the story. There were pages that made me shudder at the horror of what was happening, pages that made me drop a tear, and pages that made me sob like a baby. The story is worth reading all the way to the end. It is another glimpse into what happened during WWII and how easily the tragedies can be forgotton.
I think the title is a little misleading as The Postmistress is only one part of the story. I thought the undelivered letter was going to play a bigger part of the story, but I think it is more of a metaphor than anything.
There are a lot of discussable topics and would make for a good book club choice. This is our book club choice for June and I am looking forward to hearing the different opinions about Will and his choice to go to war, Frankie’s emotional state after traveling with the war refugees, and what is happening back in Franklin, Massachusetts. Lovers of historical fiction will not be disappointed. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.