Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review: The Postmistress

Like hundreds of other book clubs across America, Sarah Blake's The Postmistress was our June book club pick. Normally I would never pick a book with a cover like this one, as it cries out "cheesy romance novel!" A faded rose atop a letter---ugh. But I had read several reviews of the novel that sounded quite positive, so we chose not to judge the book by its cover.

As usual, we didn't actually discuss the book much during book club. Only half of us had read it anyway (as usual). Book club is really about the friends, food and wine anyway. But those of us who did read it really liked it. One book club member especially enjoyed the steamy sections, although they were few and far between.

This WW2-era novel focuses on the lives of three women: Iris, the postmistress of a tiny New England town; Emma, the doctor's new wife; and Frankie, a war correspondent in London. The stories were all a bit disjointed, especially at the beginning. There were too many winding trails before getting to the actual story. However, once I got on solid footing, I found the stories interesting. I especially loved Frankie's sections, from her reports of the bombings in London to her train journey trying to figure out what was going on with the Jews.

The real meat in this novel lies in the disparity between what is going on in Europe—what Frankie sees—and what is happening in the lives of Iris and Emma in their quiet New England town. Frankie reports on lives that are falling apart, lives lost and about to be lost, while Iris and Emma maintain a tenuous hold on simple routines that are about to crash.

This is definitely worth a read, especially if you enjoy reading around the outskirts of WW2—those unknown stories, the little snippets of lives changed forever.

Linked up on the Saturday Review of Books


Alex said...

I have this book, too, but like you I thought it would be a chessy romance. Now, I think I will pull it out and have another go at it. Thanks for the review.

Anna said...

I actually like the cover, but that might be because I used those same roses in my wedding. ;)

I was drawn more to Frankie's story than the other women, but the writing was so good, I enjoyed the book overall.

I will link to your review on War Through the Generations.

Alex said...

I just awarded you the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

sandy said...

Just finished this and was quite annoyed by the ending. Well, one part anyway. I won't post spoilers. ;-). I was captivated by Frankie and her commitment to giving voice to the voiceless, though. Mixed feelings about this book, obviously!