The Postmistress

The Postmistress

3.31 (37,598 ratings by Goodreads)
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Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible weight...
It is 1940. France has fallen. Bombs are dropping on London. And President Roosevelt is promising he won't send our boys to fight in "foreign wars."
But American radio gal Frankie Bard, the first woman to report from the Blitz in London, wants nothing more than to bring the war home. Frankie's radio dispatches crackle across the Atlantic ocean, imploring listeners to pay attention--as the Nazis bomb London nightly, and Jewish refugees stream across Europe. Frankie is convinced that if she can just get the right story, it will wake Americans to action and they will join the fight.
Meanwhile, in Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James hears Frankie's broadcasts and knows that it is only a matter of time before the war arrives on Franklin's shores. In charge of the town's mail, Iris believes that her job is to deliver and keep people's secrets, passing along the news that letters carry. And one secret she keeps are her feelings for Harry Vale, the town mechanic, who inspects the ocean daily, searching in vain for German U-boats he is certain will come. Two single people in midlife, Iris and Harry long ago gave up hope of ever being in love, yet they find themselves unexpectedly drawn toward each other.
Listening to Frankie as well are Will and Emma Fitch, the town's doctor and his new wife, both trying to escape a fragile childhood and forge a brighter future. When Will follow's Frankie's siren call into the war, Emma's worst fears are realized. Promising to return in six months, Will goes to London to offer his help, and the lives of the three women entwine.
Alternating between an America still cocooned in its inability to grasp the danger at hand and a Europe being torn apart by war, "The Postmistress" gives us two women who find themselves unable to deliver the news, and a third woman desperately waiting for news yet afraid to hear it.
Sarah Blake's "The Postmistress" shows how we bear the fact that war goes on around us while ordinary lives continue. Filled with stunning parallels to today, it is a remarkable novel.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 326 pages
  • 165 x 241 x 32mm | 513g
  • United States
  • English
  • 0399156194
  • 9780399156199
  • 565,516

Review quote

"Some novels we savor for their lapidary prose, others for their flesh and blood characters, and still others for a sweeping narrative arc that leaves us light- headed and changed; Sarah Blake's masterful, "The Postmistress," serves us all this and more. Compassionate, insightful, and unsentimental, this masterful novel is told in a rare and highly successful omniscient voice, one that delves deeply into the seemingly random nature of love and war and story itself. This is a superb book!"
-Andre Dubus III, author of "House of Sand and Fog"
""The Postmistress" is the fictional communique readers have waited for. Sarah Blake has brought small-town American life and ravaged Europe during WWII to us with cinematic immediacy. The romantic, harrowing -- and utterly inimitable-- story of radio journalist Frankie Bard (appalled yet intoxicated by tragedy as no character I've ever read before) contains the uncompromised sensibility found in the writings of Martha Gellhorn. "The Pos
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Rating details

37,598 ratings
3.31 out of 5 stars
5 11% (4,243)
4 31% (11,831)
3 38% (14,430)
2 15% (5,567)
1 4% (1,527)

Our customer reviews

My initial impression (from the cover and back page blurb) was "eugh, romance, not in the mood". Then one day I picked it up, read the prologue, and just didn't stop. This is beautifully written, intimate, heart-breaking, and so very human. Reading it creates an almost painful happiness; there is an honesty to the story that carries you through even the most painful tragedies, and makes you want to reread each line so that you too can bear witness to the bravery, keep those characters alive one moment longer. PLOT - The story is set during World War II. It follows three women whose paths cross due to unexpected circumstances: Iris, a postmistress in Franklin MA; Emma, wife of Franklin's sole doctor; and Frankie, a radio gal reporting from war-torn London. The war touches all of their lives in very distinct ways, but just as it is not a romance, this is not a war novel, either. What matters is the people: their stories, their choices, and their mistakes. THOUGHTS - Where to begin with my no doubt senseless gushing? Sometimes when you read a book you become one with the main character, and you feel like you can stand between them and their destiny, or at least help them in their plight. Not so with The Postmistress. Here you stand alongside the story, and as much as you ache for the characters all you can do is watch and bear witness to their struggles. This may explain why something that would generally annoy me - the point of view sliding between characters - did not bother me at all. Not only was it smoothly done, but it felt right to be able to know each character intimately. After all, this is not some murder-mystery with plot twists to conceal; this is real. Every person counts. Pay attention. I'll admit, it's not an easy read. The parts that really hit me the most were Frankie's - reading about London being blitzed, people hiding in tube stations, people dying.... The young boy who goes home and finds his house gone, only the front door standing.... Then Frankie travels throughout Europe, on the refugee trains, seeking for the truth and just trying to get the news out to America, to tell people to pay attention, but no one does. It made me cry. Which brings me to the writing. You know when you read a paragraph that's so right but you can't pinpoint why, and you just have to re-read it a couple times to savour it? That's how I felt reading this book. I think it's the small details; Blake captures the little things in life that matter without us realizing they do. And on the second read it has only gotten better as I'm noticing the interwoven subtleties. I want to write like this. I want my words to have this effect on someone, someday. Even the ending, which so often disappoints me in a novel, is somehow right. I really cannot think of anything to improve on. It's gripping, enthralling, emotional, insightful, and best of all the characters are real people. There are no heroic knights or distressed damsels. There are only people - people like you and me - living through very difficult times. In sum, this is not the kind of book I thought I would like. And I am so very happy that on that day I looked left instead of right, because it's the best book I've read in a long, long more
by A M Harte
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