Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Publisher: Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Postmistress tells the story of three women: Emma Fitch, the wife of the town doctor in Franklin, Massachusetts, and Iris James, the postmistress of the town. Frankie Bard is on the other side of the ocean, an American reporting on World War II from London. When Emma’s husband, Will, decides to go to London to help with the war effort for six months, events are set into motion that will bring these three women together.
I’d heard a lot about The Postmistress before it even came out, and knew I wanted to read it from the second I read about it. Seeing Sarah Blake speak about it only added to the longing I felt to read this book. Now that I’ve finally picked it up, I can only say that I’m so glad it lived up to my astronomical expectations.
I cannot say enough about the beauty and eloquence of Sarah Blake’s writing. I began marking passages to share in my review, but stopped when I realized I was flagging a few sentences every two pages. Blake’s prose is fluid, weaving an intricate, yet delicate story. Even the ugliest moments are cloaked by the beautiful words in this book. Writing like this could make up for the worst of plots, but what makes this novel great, as opposed to very good, is the fact that the story is compelling as well. If Blake continues to write with this passion and grace, I will read anything she writes, regardless of the subject matter.
There are three main characters in The Postmistress, but my personal favorite was Frankie Bard, the reporter. I loved her strength, passion, and determination. Instead of shying away from horror, she runs straight into the bombs, the murders, the killing. She has to know what is happening, to see it for herself and make others understand what she is experiencing.
“And when the air raid started, the long swooning climb up the octave in the sky, Murrow’s tense excited voice narrated the incoming drone of the Luftwaffe, here they come, you can hear them now, and Frankie had felt untouchable then, immortal, holding the microphone up to the night. Here and now. Do you hear this? She wanted to add her voice to Murrow’s, wanted her voice to find the ear of the listeners on the other end of the cable. In that moment, through the air, the Germans plowed straight into an American living room and Frankie was holding the curtain back so they could hear it better, and it was a dare. I dare you, she thought now, to look away.” – Page 26
I also loved Frankie’s journey into Europe, her quest to find out what was happening to the Jews. It wasn’t about being smart – for Frankie, it was about compassion, the need to understand, to hear the voices of people that no one else seemed to be paying attention to. I don’t want to go into it further here and spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but let me just say that it is incredibly moving.
The Postmistress is one of those books everyone will be talking about for years to come, and there is a very good reason for it: it’s just that great of a book. This is one I highly recommend – the writing style isn’t heavy, so it should appeal to those who don’t want a slow book, but should also speak to those more interested in literary fiction.