Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: February 1, 2011 (reprint paperback edition)
Rating: 2.5 Bookmarks (borrow it)
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