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The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
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The Postmistress (edition 2011)

by Sarah Blake (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,8362373,027 (3.48)1 / 206
Member:Deelightful
Title:The Postmistress
Authors:Sarah Blake (Author)
Info:Berkley (2011), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:fiction

Work details

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

  1. 251
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both novels reflect on World War II from small, seaside towns, one an island in Europe, the other a small town in Cape Cod. The female leads are unique and interesting and are surrounded by great small town people.
  2. 40
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: both have female protagonists and are about the London Blitz during WWII
  3. 00
    Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (generalkala)
  4. 13
    Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian (starfishian)
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English (236)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (240)
Showing 1-5 of 236 (next | show all)
Beautifully written story about a small town on Cape Cod and the families living there -- and how they are affected by WW II in Europe - before America enters the war. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
This book focuses on three characters mainly.
There is Iris, the post master of a small town.
Emma is a young newlywed.
Frankie is a (female) reporter.

This story takes place in the 40's, when people in the country are just starting to realize how bad things are.

Frankie wants to be on the front line. She wants to tell the real story so the world knows what's going on and steps in to do something.

Iris keeps the letter flowing through town, she believes in God and the system. She believes if she does her job well, she'll do her part to keep things running smoothly.
She's the first to know who isn't coming home.
One day, she questions her system and she wants to keep hurt away by hiding a letter.

Emma is young and alone. Her husband is a doctor and has willing left to help. He doesn't seem to believe he can help much, he just feels he's doing a penance for a "mistake" he made before he left.
But his wife suffers with every day he stays away.

I thought the characters were great, you have to have all the respect in the world for these women. I'd say, especially Frankie, trying her best to share the truth with the world. Trying to save people.

That being said, it felt slow at times, and the story of the letter didn't feel a big enough payoff. ( )
  Mishale1 | Dec 29, 2018 |
This novel is set in 1940 during the early years of World War II. It takes place both in Europe and in Franklin, Massachusetts. Europe is being devastated by war and the people of Franklin are trying to pretend that the effects of the war won’t touch them. Three female characters and their stories dominate the book. Iris James is the “Postmistress” in charge of the local Post Office in Franklin, Emma has just moved to Franklin following her recent marriage to the young doctor named Will Fitch, and Frankie Bard broadcasts the news from overseas. The repercussions of the war eventually reach the town of Franklin at about the same time that Frankie Bard makes her way there to complete a personal mission.

This story makes us aware that when we study history we should recognize that it is about more than just events. The book looks at how history can and does change people’s lives. It also makes us painfully aware of a dilemma that may exist in one’s search for knowledge and truth. Does one have a responsibility to share that knowledge and truth with others when it is better to pretend or tell lies to protect them? As characters in the book, both Iris as Postmistress and Frankie as a news broadcaster were called upon to make such decisions.
( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
I nearly hated this book. I was nearly 100 pages in before I finally had any interest in it. While the writing wasn't horrible, it didn't draw me in. The characters have potential, but they all get squashed. I am disheartened that this was published, and disgusted that I paid for the hardcover. I don't think I would have picked it up at all had it not been for a book club, and I can say without a doubt I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. There are so many good WWII books out there, I wish we'd read one of those instead of this. Actually, my kids have better board-books than this. ( )
  SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
In 1940, Frankie Bard, 'girl reporter', was reporting from London, alongside Edward R. Murrow. The U.S. had not yet entered the war. Among those listening were the residents of a small town on Cape Cod. Iris is the postmaster in Franklin and takes her job of delivering the mail very seriously.. Will is the local physician and Emma is his new bride.

Frankie feels that the real story is not being reported on; nothing is being said about Jews being forced to leave their homes. Her journalist friend, Harriet Mendelsohn, receives letters from Jewish relatives telling her some of what is going on. Then Harriet is killed during one of the bombing raids from the Nazis and Frankie tries to find ways to tell their stories. The author expertly conveys the fear and uncertainty of Americans worried that their sons will be sent off to war, and their limited knowledge of what is happening to the Jews in Europe.

Back in Franklin, Will loses a mother during childbirth, and after listening to Frankie on the radio, decides he can be more help working in hospitals in London. Emma thinks he is going out of guilt for something that wasn't his fault, but she lets him go. She doesn't tell him that she is pregnant. Will asks Iris to hold a letter for him, to give to Emma if he is killed, knowing Iris will watch over her.

Several months later, Iris is sorting the mail and does the unthinkable. She opens a letter, reads it, and decides not to send it on. In London, Frankie gets permission to go to France and rides the trains recording the stories of the various people fleeing Germany and France.

Frankie's journey eventually leads her to Franklin, with another letter in her pocket that she has vowed to deliver.

Sarah Blake's book is beautifully written and has successfully captured life in small town America at the start of the Second World War.. I would definitely recommend this one. ( )
  EvelynBernard | Jan 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 236 (next | show all)
Sarah Blake has coaxed forth a book that hits hard and pushes buttons expertly. Not for nothing does its publisher emphasize the resemblance between “The Postmistress” and “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s socially conscious pulp best seller. Each of these novels appropriates galvanizing social issues in the service of a well-wrought tear-jerker.
 
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Epigraph
War happens to people, one by one. That is really all I have to say, and it seems to me I have been saying it forever.
--Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War
Dedication
For Josh, always
First words
There were years after it happened, after I'd returned from the town and come back here to the busy blank of the city, when some comment would be tossed off about the Second World War and how it had gone - some idiotic remark about clarity and purpose - and I'd resist the urge to stub out my cigarette and bring the dinner party to a satisfying halt.
Quotations
Murrow's three questions, which formed the basis for every broadcast – What is happening? How does it affect Americans? What does the Common Man say – didn't cohere in the face of this one. The scraps added up to a terrible time for the Jews, any man at home could see.
48.(husband who escaped,
Must be tough not to know what happened, not to know whether he's all right.” … “It gets you thinking about all the parts in a story we never see … the parts around the edges. You bring someone like that boy so alive before us and there he is set loose in our world so that we can't stop thinking of him. But then the report is over, the boy disappears. He was just a boy in a story and we never know the ending, we never get to close the book. It makes you wonder what happens to the people in them after the story stops – all the stories you've reported, for instance. Where are they all now?
And what had Frankie thought? That she'd get over here and find the single story that would make the world sit up and listen? These are the Jews of Europe. Here is what is happening. Pay attention. But there was no story. Or rather, she turned from the window and considered the portable recorder. There was no story over here that she could tell from beginning until the end. The story of the Jews lay in the edges around what could be told. She sucked in her breath, the doctor's words ghosting her thoughts. The parts that whisper off into the dark, the boy and the girl listening, the woman in the corner, the mother's distracted face looking up into the moonlight, her hand in her boy's curls as he slept. The sound of that little boy's laughter caught for one impossible second, caught and held. There in the wisps, was the truth of what was happening.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
1940. De Amerikaanse radiojournaliste Frankie Bard verslaat vanuit Londen als een van de eerste vrouwen de oorlog. Terwijl er elke nacht bommen vallen en joodse vluchtelingen in paniek door Europa vluchten, probeert Frankie het juiste verhaal te vinden dat Amerika tot actie zal bewegen. Aan de andere kant van de oceaan, in Franklin, Massachusetts, luistert Iris James naar Frankies uitzendingen. Ze weet dat het een kwestie van tijd is voor de oorlog ook haar dorp bereikt en als hoofd van het postkantoor ziet ze het als haar taak om andermans geheimen te bezorgen en te bewaren. Ook het doktersechtpaar Will en Emma Fitch luistert elke avond naar Frankie. Wanneer Will besluit haar woorden ter harte te nemen en naar het front te gaan, botsen de levens van de drie vrouwen op onverwachte wijze. De laatste brief is een verhaal over sterke vrouwen, de impact van oorlog en het belang van nieuws. Zelfs nieuws dat de geadresseerde nooit bereikt... 'Geweldige boeken zorgen ervoor dat je ze mist, tot het moment dat je weer het verhaal in kunt kruipen. De laatste brief is zo'n zeldzaam boek. Als ik het niet aan het lezen was, dacht ik er wel aan. Een prachtig geschreven, ontroerende roman die ik iedereen aanraad.' Kathryn Stockett, auteur van Een keukenmeidenroman 'Sarah Blake heeft een zeer aangrijpend boek geschreven, waarmee ze op vakkundige wijze tot haar lezers doordringt. De ware kracht van De laatste brief ligt in het feit dat het de lezer niet toestaat blasé te zijn over verhalen uit oorlogstijd. Sarah Blake schrijft krachtig over hoe fragiel het leven is en over de manier waarop Frankie probeert over te brengen aan het thuisfront hoe iemand er het ene moment nog kan zijn en het volgende voorgoed verdwenen is.' The New York Times 'Door de verhalen van drie zeer verschillende vrouwen die losjes in elkaar haken te verweven, neemt debutant Blake haar lezers mee naar beurtelings het dorpsleven in Amerika en het door oorlog geteisterde Europa van 1940. Blake weet deze verschillende werelden precies te grijpen: een naïef land dat de realiteit niet onder ogen wil zien en, aan de andere kant van de oceaan, een continent dat wordt verscheurd door angst. Ze doet dat met een uitstekend gevoel voor personages en plot, en met de volledige bereidheid zich te storten op grote, complexe kwesties, zoals de waarde van het vertellen van de waarheid in oorlogstijd.' Publishers Weekly 'Een schitterend boek over de kracht van woorden en hoe deze mensen en de wereld om hen heen kunnen beïnvloeden.' USA Today Sarah Blake is geboren in New York waar ze Engels gaf op een middelbare school en aan de universiteit. Tegenwoordig woont ze in Washington met haar man en twee kinderen.

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In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she'll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States. Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, "The Postmistress" is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women--and of two countries torn apart by war.… (more)

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