It’s 1941. Frankie Bard, a rare female radio personality, reports from London every night on the state of the burgeoning war in Europe, trying desperately to convince Americans that the time has come to intervene and stop Germany. In Franklin, Massachusetts, both Emma Fitch, the doctor’s new wife, and Iris James, the town’s postmistress, listen to Frankie from the comfort of a small town in Cape Cod. But the war can’t stay out forever and these three women will find their lives intertwined as the question of who delivers the news becomes paramount in all of their lives.
I’ve heard a lot of hype lately about The Postmistress. It seems that everyone who reads it enjoys it. I’m not an exception – I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy reading this. It’s a smooth read, very well-written, with some fantastic imagery. I loved in particular Frankie’s radio stints. I could almost hear her voice in my head, especially when the other characters described how she sounded – like she was smiling, or if she sounded tired or angry. I almost never listen to the radio personally, but it always strikes me as an essential part of twentieth-century history.
In fact all around Frankie was my favorite, but I also appreciated the contrast between war-time Europe and sleepy Cape Cod. It seemed amazing to me – as it did to Frankie – that throughout so many European countries people were regularly exiled from their homes, shipped off to concentration camps, or trapped in hiding while Americans did nothing even though they knew precisely what was happening. The contrast seemed strikingly relevant to the present day as well, where there are plenty of war-torn countries while we sit comfortably in our homes and hardly ever have to worry about our safety when we go to the grocery store. I have no solutions, but the book certainly brings up plenty of questions that are still relevant to our lives.
For some reason, though, this never became a book I loved. Maybe because of the ending, which I found a little on the unnecessary side, or maybe just because the whole book was full of secrets. I know others feel more strongly about it than I do, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll need to revisit. I’d probably still recommend The Postmistress to someone looking for fiction about the Second World War with a female focus.
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