Book Review: The Postmistress – Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
ISBN: 9780399156199
Pages: 336
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Publisher: Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

Comments

  1. I’m really glad to read this! I’ve had this loaded on my Kindle since the day it came out, but will most likely read it when I vacation this summer. I can’t wait!

  2. I’m really glad to read this! I’ve had this loaded on my Kindle since the day it came out, but will most likely read it when I vacation this summer. I can’t wait!

  3. Like Sandy, I’ve had this one on my Kindle for quite some time. I am also glad to read your reactions to it. I’m looking forward to reading it soon. I still love that cover so much!

  4. Like Sandy, I’ve had this one on my Kindle for quite some time. I am also glad to read your reactions to it. I’m looking forward to reading it soon. I still love that cover so much!

  5. I keep hearing mixed reviews about this book – most have been very positive but I’ve seen some negative as well. Your review makes me want to run and read it right away though!

  6. I keep hearing mixed reviews about this book – most have been very positive but I’ve seen some negative as well. Your review makes me want to run and read it right away though!

  7. I can’t wait to discuss this one at book club. There’s a lot in this novel.

  8. I can’t wait to discuss this one at book club. There’s a lot in this novel.

  9. I was anxious to hear what you think about this one. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I loved it. I actually was a little disappointed because of all the build-up. I agree that Frankie was my favorite character!

  10. I was anxious to hear what you think about this one. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I loved it. I actually was a little disappointed because of all the build-up. I agree that Frankie was my favorite character!

  11. Well this one was already on my list to read but your review certainly solidifies it’s position there!

  12. Well this one was already on my list to read but your review certainly solidifies it’s position there!

  13. Hmm, I’ve heard some people say this was just okay, but your review makes it sound great!! I really can’t wait to read this!

  14. Hmm, I’ve heard some people say this was just okay, but your review makes it sound great!! I really can’t wait to read this!

  15. I don’t think I liked this as much as you did, but I do agree that Blake’s writing is gorgeous.

  16. I don’t think I liked this as much as you did, but I do agree that Blake’s writing is gorgeous.

  17. Frankie was my favorite too, her need to find out the truth really resonated with me.

  18. Frankie was my favorite too, her need to find out the truth really resonated with me.

  19. I have been reading such glowing reviews of this book, and I am really excited about reading it. I am so glad that it was such a good read for you! I will have to stop by and let you know what I thought of it after I’m done! Wonderful review!

  20. I have been reading such glowing reviews of this book, and I am really excited about reading it. I am so glad that it was such a good read for you! I will have to stop by and let you know what I thought of it after I’m done! Wonderful review!

  21. I think you enjoyed this one more than I did! Frankie was my favorite too. I loved her narratives and only wish I’d felt that way about the rest of the book.

  22. I think you enjoyed this one more than I did! Frankie was my favorite too. I loved her narratives and only wish I’d felt that way about the rest of the book.

  23. This one was beautifully written. I’ve don that, too–marked so many passages that it was going to be impossible for me to ever get through the book at the rate I was going!

  24. This one was beautifully written. I’ve don that, too–marked so many passages that it was going to be impossible for me to ever get through the book at the rate I was going!

  25. I also really enjoyed the book. The writing style, the characters. You’re right about Blake’s writing. The story just grabbed me, and part of that was because of the author’s writing style.

    Frankie was also my favourite character, I enjoyed watching her journey and development as a character.

    You’re lucky you had a chance to hear her speak, that would have been interesting to see. I hope we see more of her soon.

  26. I also really enjoyed the book. The writing style, the characters. You’re right about Blake’s writing. The story just grabbed me, and part of that was because of the author’s writing style.

    Frankie was also my favourite character, I enjoyed watching her journey and development as a character.

    You’re lucky you had a chance to hear her speak, that would have been interesting to see. I hope we see more of her soon.

  27. Oh boy, definitely need to get ahold of this one — I think I’ve yet to see a negative review of The Postmistress! And since I’m on such a historical fiction kick, sounds like it’ll be a treat! 🙂

  28. Oh boy, definitely need to get ahold of this one — I think I’ve yet to see a negative review of The Postmistress! And since I’m on such a historical fiction kick, sounds like it’ll be a treat! 🙂

  29. This book just sounds so good! Your review peaks my interest too. I have a copy…now I have to make time to read it 🙂 I love this time period.

  30. This book just sounds so good! Your review peaks my interest too. I have a copy…now I have to make time to read it 🙂 I love this time period.

  31. I enjoyed The Postmistress but it wasn’t as good as some of the other WWII era books I’ve read, so I was a bit disappointed. I think I need to stay about from that sub-genre for now.

  32. I enjoyed The Postmistress but it wasn’t as good as some of the other WWII era books I’ve read, so I was a bit disappointed. I think I need to stay about from that sub-genre for now.

  33. I’ve had this book on my shelf for far too long. I’m really looking forward to reading it! I was mesmerized by Blake’s writing in the passage you included.

  34. I’ve had this book on my shelf for far too long. I’m really looking forward to reading it! I was mesmerized by Blake’s writing in the passage you included.

  35. Already on my wish list. Have been wanting to read this for awhile now.

    JHS
    Colloquium

  36. Already on my wish list. Have been wanting to read this for awhile now.

    JHS
    Colloquium

  37. Sounds like I’d enjoy her writing, and the WWII angle is right up my alley. Glad to see you liked this one.

    I hope it’s okay that I linked to your review on the Book Reviews: WWII page on War Through the Generations.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  38. Sounds like I’d enjoy her writing, and the WWII angle is right up my alley. Glad to see you liked this one.

    I hope it’s okay that I linked to your review on the Book Reviews: WWII page on War Through the Generations.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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