The Postmistress

The Postmistress

by Sarah Blake
3.4 543

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The Postmistress 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 543 reviews.
CBH More than 1 year ago
This novel should become a real masterpiece. Sarah Blake captures the reader, transplants them into the late 1930's and early 1940's, and places them in the minds and bodies of those living before and during World War II. From a small New England town Frankie Bard went to London and researched news and interest for Edward R. Murrow, the voice America knew as he reported for CBS from London and vicinity during that war. Frankie eventually started doing her small bits on Mr. Murrow's show. Her voice also became known from her own human-interest stories and news. The area was a sea of bombed and burned out buildings from which the residents of the area fled when the warning sirens went off and hustled to get underground to the protected shelters. As they stayed in those crowded shelters they could hear bombs going off above and feel the blast of the shells. They could smell the burning buildings, and taste the dust that crept into every corner of the city, above and beneath ground. Back in the United States Iris James became the Postmistress of the post office that happened to be in the same town where Frankie Bard lived. The town was directly on the coast with some of those in town always on the lookout for German submarines surfacing off their coast. The war was far away but one never knew about the Germans and their war machine. Emma and Will Fitch had married. Will was the town doctor. Will got the urge to go to England to help all the wounded but of course, Emma was dead set against that. She knew after a short time that Will would never be happy until he did leave and tend to those in misery. Little did Will know that Emma was pregnant when he left and he would not find out as long as he was away. The descriptions sent out to the world by Frankie and Edward Murrow gave an idea of just how bad London and surrounding areas had been hit but still the people were so resilient that they bounced back. Of course there were casualties, wounded and dead, but those able had to carry on, and they indeed did. The United States was not in the war yet even though many around the world felt they should be. Frankie asked permission of Edward Murrow to go to Germany and other nations under their control to report what she was able. Being American she could travel fairly easy but when she did travel, the brutality she saw hurt her deeply. She reported it as well as possible but the censors stopped all but the normal news, or in some situations she could "code" words or phrases to get the news out. She saw the persecution of the Jews, the killing of those considered a "danger" to the Germans, the torture of humans, and the hurt imposed on their daily lives. Frankie had a primitive recording device she used to record the sounds and voices of those she met along the way. When she ran out of recording discs she recorded over at least one of them not knowing what would be on that disc. Frankie eventually and suddenly went home to try to recoup her mind and body but there was no way to get the horrible things she had seen out of her memory. She tried to fit into the small town again but had a very hard time talking to people. She kept seeing and hearing things from her trip. She played and replayed the discs. Here I will stop describing this fantastic book. By now you have to have whetted your minds appetite to read this book. If "Postmistress" doesn't win a lot of writing awards I will be very disappointed. S
Biblio_Sue More than 1 year ago
The Postmistress is a novel focusing on three American women in the early days of World War II, prior to the US entering the war. The title itself is misleading; the postmistress of the town is a main character, but she certainly isn't the focus of the book. The book jacket's description describes a letter not being delivered, which implies that it is a key turning point; I found that once this happened (halfway through the novel) the fact that it was not delivered was irrelevant to the story. There are a number of other plot points that I found to be either not relevant or not fully resolved by the end. I really wanted to love this book, and there are passages that are excellent, but as a whole I was disappointed.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
The Postmistress is Sarah Blake's debut novel. A literary masterpiece set in pre WW11 America she gives us a glimpse of what life was like. She gives us colorful and unforgettable characters as she takes us through war torn Europe and she does it with grace and style. She keeps you entertained while straining your emotions and pulling your heartstrings. Sarah's story is one that's been told a thousand times, a story about life just before and during WW11, but she throws in a twist, a twist called fate and what happens when fate is challenged. And that twist makes this plot so unique. She takes us on a journey with her wonderful descriptive dialogue. She is an amazing storyteller and her words took me to those places from her book and I could see the aftermath of bomb stricken London and pre WW11 small town USA. But what she surely excels in is her characters who are all so well defined and developed that they actually appear three dimensional to me. She takes us right to the heart of her story and shows us faces of the forgotten in Europe and let's us hear their voices. She has strong women characters and shows us just what they're made of. It's a tale of love and loss, of heartache and heartbreak, of friendship, cruelty and hate, hopelessness but most of all hope. So come on a trip through time and experience this wonderful, dynamic and unforgettable read for yourself. It's a must read for all lovers of recent historical fiction, lovers of literary fiction and those of us who love all that plus an unforgettable read.
poosie More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually into war stories but I DO enjoy the demonstration of the good in people. This novel of historical fiction is divided into four parts, each part relating to a season in the year of 1941. The author takes you through a year in the life of three female characters and the men that mean a lot to them. The characters are complex. Throughout, the author's descriptions are detailed and three-dimensional. You can almost feel their presence. The war and each character's reactions to it are fleeting and ever present in our daily lives. The story is compelling. It's not just a war story, it's a story about our past and our future. The book is about making decisions and about being able to live with those decisions afterward, about what defines us as human, what separates us from others and what brings us together. Well worth your time!
captaincurt81 More than 1 year ago
If you're part of a Reading Group don't skip this gem. Terrific characters, a historical setting, unusual plot twists and thoughtful examination of the effects of hard times and love upon husbands, wives,lovers,reporters and civil servants are blended beautifully here. You'll glimpse the London Blitz, the coast watchers searching for U-Boats, the first stirrings of the terrors of Nazi occupation, as well as the solace of love and acceptance, the strength of community and the need to forge one's own path no matter the personal cost. Sarah Blake has written a deeply satisfying tale of love and war with emotion, suspense and intelligence like none you've read before.
Molinarolo More than 1 year ago
THE POSTMISTRESS is a book that will linger with me for many reasons...not all positive. At the heart of Sarah Blake's novel is Frankie Bard's question "What would happen if a Postmistress failed to deliver a letter?" In 1940 such an action would've been disastrous when letters and the telegraph were the main forms of personal communications. And in Franklin, MA when the letters from a young Doctor to his wife stop arriving from London during the Blitz, Iris James - the Village's spinster Postmaster, understands the implications for she has heard CBS Radio Gal Frankie Bard's vivid reportage of the raging London raids, while allowing his pregnant bride to hope and believe he is busy saving lives there, not knowing that Emma Fitch had asked her husband Will to "prove that people stay alive." But when a letter finally arrives the next June from London not in Dr. Fitch's hand, the Postmaster steams open, reads, and pockets the letter, silently promising to deliver it to Emma after the baby comes. After all, she thinks, no official word has come through, the telegraph had been silent. Surely word would come through official channels if the reason for Will's silence was bad, wouldn't it? Both Emma and Frankie know people are here one day and are not the next day, and Iris would learn that hard lesson too. I wanted to scream to Iris, "READ THAT POCKETED LETTER AGAIN!" Frankie too has a letter from the young doctor that she carries with her as she does with the disks of the voices of the "refugees" she has ridden the rails with from Germany to the border of Spain - not able to deliver the news beyond the edge of the snapshots she and Edward Murrow give their radio audiences. Blake never tells us why, which is a shame, but does put Will Fitch and Frankie in a funky bomb shelter together and she is the only one in the story besides the reader whom knows why the young doctor has gone silent. Though he loves his young bride and looks for her face in every woman, he is not going back home. He is happy in war and his work in London. "It all adds up," he tells the radio gal. How? Blake again fails to tell us. But we do know him and Iris's lover, Harry Vale. Franklin's Mechanic and Watchman can't believe he's won the love of the redheaded postmaster who wears the wrong shade of red lipstick at his age. Conversely he understands that he is the village idiot for believing the Germans are coming, but he continues his visual a top of Franklin's town hall awaiting the German U-Boat that finally comes. We know his cottage mate who walks along the dunes staring out to France to catch a glimpse of the "refugee" he is waiting for. Blake is excellent in her characterization of the men while lacking in the women, in whom the readers are to have a vested interest: Frankie and Iris who are afraid to deliver the news and Emma whom is afraid to hear it. Also, the writing confused me. While Blake shines in the radio vignettes and her seamless transitions from London to Franklin, the three women's stories were like an unfocused photograph that was cropped in the wrong place. I wanted to slap Emma ALL throughout the book and I wanted to know more about Iris and Frankie. What happened to them after Emma and Harry's stories ended? What posessed Iris to get the Certificate from the Boston doctor? Why did Frankie slink out of London and how? Was she suffering "shell shock" as Harry infomed Iris?
Mom_of_two_boysMA More than 1 year ago
The descrption of this book really intrigued me and the idea the author had was great, but it was so boring! She could have done so much more with it, I think. I found myself not at all caring about the characters and it was pretty predictable. The only thing I liked about it was that it gave me a bit of an inside view into WWII and I (being NOT a history buff) learned things I wasn't aware of (if they're true). But I would not recommend this to anyone, being a mom of two young boys I rarely get to read and found this to be a waste of time. The only reason I finished it was that I hoped for a great twist. Never happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The summary from the publishers is the most exciting piece of prose that this book offers. The blurb sets this book as exciting and unforgettable, in reality it is slow, dull,underdeveloped and pointless. The point of any story is to show how the characters change at the end. Here, the characters change, but all that leads up to this change is so confusing and unfinished that the book is anticlimactic. The dialogue is so badly written that it sounds like some unfortunate re-interpretation of Beckett. Skip it!!
L-A-P More than 1 year ago
Interesting from a historical perspective regarding mood in the U.S. prior to involvement in WWII. However, the characters and story build so slowly and the story line is very predictable. There's no intrigue. I was fairly bored until about two-thirds into the book. Just kept reading to see what would eventually happen.
mandyfish More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this cover. When the book arrived I actually squeeled and petted the book. It has a great cover...colors, textures, all of it. Perfect. That's where my adoration ended. I just can't get into this book. I like the idea of the story, but it just gets buried under the strikingly heavy descriptions of the war and the more-often-than-not confusing transitions between characters. I want to finish this so badly....but I just can't force myself through any more of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time reading this book and keeping the story straight. Disjointed or something. I dont know what it was. But I did read it to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was so well written by author. Full of feeling although she is of a different generation. Style of writing is unique without being unintelligible for average reader.Having lived through WW11 in USA,data was believable. Will keep this book on the shelf.
PatriciaWI More than 1 year ago
The Postmistress has at least three fascinating aspects. The first is the theme. It speaks to the chaos theory in the unfolding of human lives. No matter the direction or intent, life takes on a life of its own and we humans must hang on for the ride. But what happens when one or more people choose to change the outcome for someone else. Does it ever work out the way he or she intends it to? What does this say about how we should live our lives? The second aspect is the setting. It takes place in America and Europe during the years after WWII started but before the US entered the war. Ms. Blake looks at the American mindset, journalism, and the reality of what was happening and how they juxtapose to shape American opinion and action. The third aspect is the role of judgement or prejudice. It reminds me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird in it's painful look at how often our judgements are ignorant or tragic. It was a painful, thought provoking and beautiful novel.
mattevan More than 1 year ago
After all the hype on this book, I was so looking forward to curling up with this book on these cold winter days that most of the United States is having. From the first chapter to the last (yes I did finish the book) I was unable to get the feel of the characters. The flipping back and forth from the war and Boston was, to me, was exhausting. I just could not grasp exactly what this book was all about.
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
The book follows the lives of three women in the months immediately preceding the United States involvement in World War II. Iris the new postmaster of Franklin, Mass., is very businesslike, proper, without being prim, and interested in doing the best job she can for the people of her town. Emma, is the fragile looking, out-of-town, newly married wife of the local doctor. Frankie, on the other hand, is a war correspondent in London, broadcasting her impressions of the war back to the people safely at home in the U.S. The paths of these three woman will come to a focal point as the U.S. is drawn to the brink of war. We are reminded in these pages of the endless cruelty of war, the power of love and of loss, the reasons why we have to carry on after senseless tragedy, and the wonderful gift a simple act of kindness can be. Very well written, the book quickly envelopes you in the lives of the characters, with enough twists and surprises to keep you eagerly turning the pages.
HannaintheTriad More than 1 year ago
A stunning debut novel. Set in the early 1940's the novel follows the intersecting paths of three women as they experience the wrath of the war in Europe and wonder when and if the US will be drawn into the trenches. Readers will be drawn-in by the well rounded personalities and compelling setting. The timing of this book release couldn't be better. Book clubs will enjoy contrasting the stories in the book with current world events.
Qui0330 More than 1 year ago
This book was predictable and boring. I had high hopes but the characters are bland and cliche
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring so I am glad I checked it out and brought it back the same day. It should be a cheaper B&N ebook but this just shows that the new toy I bought is only good for travel. Nook books are nice but you can't even trade them with friends and the LEND BOOK function is a joke since you can't lend most of your books.
MDTuck More than 1 year ago
Too young to know or appreciate the agonies of what lead up to the USA coming into WWII, I was fascinated and horrified by the real descriptions of the Blitz in London, the exodus of the Jews and other foreigners from their homes and possessions, the difficulties experienced and the inhumanities suffered before the war began in earnest. The life of a reporter, especially a woman, in 1940 is shown to perfection in a male oriented world. Having experienced the similar boarding school and women's college in the East at a much later date, it was easy to understand the uniqueness and drive of Frankie. The dedication of the postmistress, the innocence of the young bride, the conflict of the young town doctor, the town mechanic - all seem to be archetypes of the era. The author adds to the authenticity by including names of real newscasters of the time who lasted way beyond the '40's. A very worthwhile read.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Back in March, I posted that I had the great pleasure to attend a reading and book signing for Sarah Blake's The Postmistress, from Amy Einhorn Books of G.P. Putnam's Sons. It was fascinating to hear the creative process behind the book, a fictional novel about three women's lives that collide during World War II. Blake described the research that she did for this remarkable novel. She began with Iris James, the postmistress of a small community on Cape Cod. Iris took her job very seriously, believing deeply in the order of government, truth and that mail must be delivered. Emma was a young bride, in love with her young doctor husband Will, who leaves her behind, pregnant, while he goes off to help the war effort in England after an unfortunate outcome for a patient shakes his belief in himself. The most intriguing character is Frankie Bard, a young female reporter who travels to England and ends up as war correspondent working with Edward R. Murrow. When I was a young girl, I wanted be like Brenda Starr, the strong reporter from the comic strip. After reading this novel, I want to be Frankie Bard. (Blake wrote in my book "So glad you're a Frankiephile"!) Frankie fights to bring the truth of the war to her listeners. The most intense, gripping part of the story takes place when Frankie is on a train traveling through France to Spain. The train is filled with people, many of them Jewish, fleeing the Nazis. The tension on the train is palpable, and Blake writes those scenes with such realism, you can feel your heart beating through your chest as these people are praying to make it to safety. Frankie hopes to get some people to speak into her new recording device, determined to bring the tapes back to England and allow the people of America to hear the truth in the words of people who fear for their lives. (At this point, the American people are not aware of the atrocities the Nazis are inflicting on Jews and other people.) Blake parallels Frankie trying to bring the truth of the war to Americans who were confused and uninformed with reporters who were trying to bring the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. She likens the fear in America following Pearl Harbor to the fear and uncertainty we felt after 9/11. The Postmistress feels authentic, thanks to Blake's research at The Radio & Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland. She listened to recordings made by Mary Marvin Breckinridge, Betty Wason, and Martha Gellhorn, female war correspondents, and they inspired the fascinating character of Frankie. In the end, Frankie and Iris must make a decision that requires them to question whether they can uphold their beliefs about truth and duty. This gripping novel, filled with strong characterizations, asks us to question our own beliefs in the face of adversity as well. Amy Einhorn, whom I was lucky enough to meet at the signing, has a gift for finding talented writers with a fresh, strong voice. I've read Kathyrn Stockett's The Help, Diana Joseph's I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, and Kelly O'Connor McNees's The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott from Amy Einhorn Books, and loved them all. I look forward to any book from this imprint.
AmyK67 More than 1 year ago
I kept waiting for something significant to happen and it didn't. The characters and plot were predictable and not well developed. I didn't care much about them. The idea of NOT delivering news to the pregnant wife was ridiculous. Who did those people think they were? My book club read this and not one person liked it or would recommend it. I expected a lot better based on print reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Postmistress is a wonderfully written book that pulls you into the lives of Americans as World War II begins to unfold in Europe. The story brings to life characters as their lives change along with the changes in the war effort. I feel the story's main character is Frankie Bard, who is not the Postmistress of Franklin, MA but who, as a reporter, holds the future of one of Franklin's residents in her hands. She sees the war first hand and is most hard hit with the reality of the war's violence. She is only able to report back certain details that must meet the censor's requirements. She is unable to tell the whole story at times and carries the pain within herself. She travels to Franklin, MA on a personal mission to tell a very sad story but later cannot bring herself to complete the task. Individual stories later weave together based on their connections to the town. The postmistress, Iris James, senses the stress that is hitting the community as the war becomes more violent and as stories of horrific acts against Jewish communities reach the states - mainly through Frankie Bard's radio broadcasts from Europe. The post office becomes the hub of activity as citizens await word from oversees and want updates from the latest broadcast. Iris has a front row view of her community and also carries the personal pain of her friends. This book was hard to put down as Sarah Blake's writing vividly brought each scene to life. She also was able to provide such detail that you personally felt the suspense, pain and frustration of the characters. For as serious of a topic, there were moments of pleasure and enjoyment that helped lighten the overall tone of the topic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did think it was thought provoking and it was interesting at times, but I prefer mysteries. The two main women characters were strong, and had good work ethic, but they were portrayed as lonely (no hope for me) women. It was a depressing book about a sad era during German occupation in Europe. Ms Blake certainly knows how to catch passionate emotions and put them to print. And the main men in the book died, no one seemed to have a good, long lasting relationship. The doctor's father was an alcoholic, Emma's lost her family at a young age, oh Frankie had a caring mother, but it seemed everyone was unhappy all the time.
4everyone More than 1 year ago
THE EVENTS REVOLVE AROUND TRAGIC EVENTS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE 'POND'. RELATIVELY STRONG CHARACTERS ARE IN THE FORM OF NEWS MEDIA, A POSTMASTER AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE BESET WITH SAD EVENTS. PERHAPS THE DRIVING FORCE IN THIS JOURNALISTIC ADVENTURE IS ONE OFFERED BY SLOAN-KETTERING CANCER CENTER: "OF ALL THE FORCES THAT MAKE FOR A BETTER WORLD, NONE IS SO POWERFUL AS HOPE. WITH HOPE, ONE CAN THINK, ONE CAN WORK, AND ONE CAN DREAM. IF YOU HAVE HOPE, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING. CERTAINLY IT KEEPS US ALIVE."
Happy2010 More than 1 year ago
I had read this time era in other books and thought I would continue. The story and characters were wonderfully written, a little quirky, but interesting. The words jump off the page and you can vividly picture the place, people and time. Very enjoyable.