Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Author: Sarah Blake

Genre/Pages: Fiction/384

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Release Date: February 1, 2011 (reprint paperback edition)

Rating: 2.5 Bookmarks (borrow it)

Source: Publisher

Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis: Set in 1940, The Postmistress juxtaposes the stories of three women who are each charged with the task of delivering.

Delivering is nuanced word that suits Sarah Blake’s novel as the three main female characters are each tasked with the duty of delivering.

Iris James is the postmistress of a fictional coastal town in Massachusetts, responsible for delivering mail to the townspeople.  Frankie Bard, a New Yorker reporting on the Blitz from London as a broadcaster with Edward R. Murrow, conveys bloody and vivid accounts of a war that America seems to want to ignore.  Emma Trask arrives in Franklin, Massachusetts by bus, a newly minted wife, determined to deliver in her duties as a doctor’s wife.

Of the three women, I found Frankie Bard to be the most colorful and dynamic.  When Blake writes about Bard’s experiences in London, both during the nightly raids and pre- and post raids, her prose is lyrical and vivid.  I was able to get more of sense for the minor characters in London than for some of their larger counterparts across the ocean in Franklin.  Frankie is unapologetic and strong and the risks she is willing to take for her broadcasts gave them an authenticity I didn’t see in some of Iris’s actions.

Iris is a 40-year-old stickler for rules and regulations, with an unwavering faith in God and her country.  I found her to be a bit tiresome and persnickety until she started to take a few risks.  I admired her strength and patience dealing with the locals–she’s from away–but was a bit disappointed that I didn’t warm up to her more.

Emma, the doctor’s wife, plays a supporting role and because of a medical misstep, is unable to fulfill her responsibilities to deliver in her role as a wife as her husband banishes himself to England to help in the war effort.

While I loved the era in which the novel was set, I found many of the transitions between characters awkward and difficult to follow.  The chapters set in London moved far more quickly for me and life in Franklin was a bit too provincial.

This book has been lauded by many–including Kathryn Stockett of The Help fame.  I’m in the minority with my less-than-glowing review, but it just didn’t capture me the way I was hoping it would.

Would you like some other perspectives?  Other book bloggers who have reviewed The Postmistress:

Dawn from She Is Too Fond of Books

Jill from Rhapsody in Books

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog

Karen from Planet Books

Kerry from Entomology of a Bookworm


  • At 2011.02.16 10:48, rhapsodyinbooks said:

    Well, I’m in that same minority! I like your identification of the theme of delivering. Good call! :–)
    rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..Review of “Jazz in Love” by Neesha Meminger

    • At 2011.02.16 10:48, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      I found the transitions in this book awkward as well. What’s funny about it is that I actually liked it less after my book club discussed it.

      • At 2011.02.16 11:01, vivienne said:

        Sorry it didn’t work for you. I am still quite intrigued by this book.
        vivienne´s last blog post ..The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

        • At 2011.02.16 11:03, Meg said:

          I’ve definitely seen lots of glowing reviews of this one, but for some reason it’s never really interested in me. Sounds like one I might pick up someday . . . if it’s slim pickin’s!
          Meg´s last blog post ..Those you hold safe in your heart

          • At 2011.02.16 13:58, Ti said:

            I’ve seen this one all over yet I have absolutely no desire to read it. I’m not sure if it’s the “back of the book” blurb or the cover…maybe a combination of both but I am turned off by it. Now I can safely say this is one I can pass up.
            Ti´s last blog post ..Introducing…Chloe!

            • At 2011.02.16 14:47, Alita said:

              Sorry to hear this book wasn’t nearly as wonderful as you had hoped. I’ve had it on my shelf for a while but just haven’t been able to get myself to read it yet. I’ll get to it at some point, but I’m not in any rush.
              Alita´s last blog post ..The Book Thief by Markus Zusak final thoughts

              • At 2011.02.16 21:19, Jenners said:

                This book just didn’t grab me … but I don’t remember reading any big rave reviews about it.
                Jenners´s last blog post ..Giveaway Time!

                • At 2011.02.18 13:07, kay @ Infiniteshelf said:

                  Borrow it? Couldn’t you tell me this before I actually bought it last week? :-p
                  I’m sorry to hear it didn’t meat your expectations. I can’t wait to read it, but maybe I should calm down my expectations too?
                  kay @ Infiniteshelf´s last blog post ..Review – Past Midnight

                  • At 2011.02.19 08:47, Beth F said:

                    I really liked this one but I definitely recognized the flaws (as I wrote in my review). Like Kathy said, I actually liked the book less after our book club discussion!
                    Beth F´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking- Focaccia with Greens from Lora Brody

                    • At 2011.02.21 16:01, Lisa said:

                      I liked this one slightly better but was so disappointed by the ending. Overall, I felt like the whole book could have been a bit tighter but I think Blake has great promise.
                      Lisa´s last blog post ..Sunday Salon – February 20

                      • At 2011.03.03 11:41, Jennifer said:

                        I never got around to reading this one. I saw a lot of really positive reviews, but nothing that really made me feel like I must have this book and must read it now. Maybe this is one of those books that I can accept never getting around to reading.
                        Jennifer´s last blog post ..Rejection Hurts

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