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