The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal, Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say – for example, that Emma Trask has come to marry the town’s doctor, and that Harry Vale watches the ocean for U-boats. Iris believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn’t deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can’t touch them. But Iris and Emma and Frankie know better…

 

 

Who are we to decide what is considered truth and who is allowed to hear it?  This is the underlying message in this book and I am thankful to say this is not as much of a war novel as it is the knowledge that there is a war happening.

 

 

 

My first impressions were “whoa – that’s a lot of characters!”…  I have mentioned this before, I prefer books with few characters as I like to get to know them.  I also struggle keeping a gaggle of characters straight when many are brought in at once or switched frequently and that does happen within this read.  As much as I enjoyed the three main female characters and found this to a pleasant read, there was a lot to keep track of and having just read another world war II book it felt a little like work to read.

But hang in there reader.  These three women do make for an interesting read.  Iris, who resides in Massachusetts is the keeper of all things postal… in this case, the local post office and insists that she be called the “postmaster”, (I am curious as to why the book was not names this, instead of postmistress). Iris’s job is a serious one as in a time where TV’s were pretty much non-existent, radios were the source of entertainment (yup – pre Twitter, texting and hang on to your chair, pre- Facebook.).  Iris was in many cases the communication life line between people such as Will and Emma… until one day…

OOPS!  Moving on 😉

American journalist Frankie Bard is the voice of the war.  Frankie’s job is to find a way to tell the stories of those she meets and this becomes her struggle, as she can not remain neutral.   Frankie’s role really becomes a center to this books as much is set around her broadcasts and the other characters (Iris who feels it can not be as bad as Frankie is saying and Emma  listening to them.

 

Emma is a young newly wed to the towns doctor, Will.  She also resides in Massachusetts.  Through a happening in the book she becomes friends with the much older Iris.  Emma waits for Wills letters that come frequently for a while…. and then they slow to the point of stopping, the results are what will bring all three of these women to a heartbreaking togetherness.

 

While the book at times felt choppy, I have to admit I took great interest in the story line…. what right do we have to withhold information?  How is it that while our world is at war we can go on living as though all is well?  This applies to the book – and I think to our every day lives.  Of course, my thoughts drift to Japan…

Final thoughts:  It is a good read but I did not find it to be an easy read and at times it felt a bit like work to follow what was happening.  If you are making a decision on this book, please check out other thoughts as well as they are mixed and this is one of those books that holds a sense of mystery around it…. some love it, some hate it….  I liked it.  🙂

 

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Postmistress

 

I received this book to review for the TLC Book Tour

33 thoughts on “The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

  1. I’m so glad to see this review, Sheila. Yours is the first (that I can remember) that mentions the many characters – I’m like you, I prefer fewer rather than more. I was considering this one as my audiobook for a 5.5 hour (one way) drive this weekend, but now I am rethinking that if there are a lot of people to keep track of. I have a bunch of other possibilities, thankfully ….

  2. I agree that sometimes the characters were difficult to keep straight…and it would be impossible for me to listen to an audio of this. Not that I ever listen to audios…LOL

    But at least reading it, you can turn back the pages and check things out. I wouldn’t want to read it on my Sparky, either, for the same reason. Navigating is not that easy with no page numbers!

    I read it awhile ago, and mine was an ARC.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sheila.

  3. I read and reviewed this fairly recently and enjoyed it but felt it quite hard to keep track of all the characters – and especially who was in which country – and felt only some of them were fully rounded. Enjoyed it at the time but to be honest it hasn’t really lingered in my memory.

  4. I listened to this on audio and thought it was fantastic. It was a lot easier to keep track of the story and the characters as I listened than it would have been had I read it. In addition, the parts that dealt with Frankie’s audio recordings were just phenomenal – they will definitely stay with me for a long time.

      1. I also listened to the audio and really enjoyed the story. I didn’t have any problems with all the characters and I attribute that to the wonderful narration.

  5. I am reading this now for the tour and am about half way. Just skimming so I don’t learn what happens!

  6. I’m hoping to get this one as an audiobook from the library soon. With all of the various opinions floating around I’m very curious to see what I’ll think of it.

  7. I read this book about a year ago….it was ‘good’ for me, but not ‘great’. maybe it was all those characters!
    That happens a lot to me when there is a lot ‘buzz’ about a book. I just don’t think the same as the buzzers. :~) but I did like it.

  8. I read this a while back and really enjoyed it. I usually have a hard time with books that I have heard a lot of hype about because I find they often don’t live up to my expectations. While this book didn’t exceed my expectations it didn’t dissapoint me either.

  9. I have an eBook copy of this to read; I’ve also seen many mixed reviews, so at least I have a better understanding going into it that even if I don’t like it at first, there will be enough that I eventually will like to keep me reading! Thanks for the review!

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