The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Author: Sarah Blake

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis): 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.
On the eve of the United States’s entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn’t deliver a letter.…more

My thoughts: An interesting idea for a novel and the author explains how she got the idea at the end of the book.  Also included is information on her research which I appreciated since I wanted to know more about the war time press.

I’m not sure why but I just didn’t connect with the characters on the home front. I know they were connected in that they moved the plot but there was just something about them that made them seem more like caricatures.   Maybe it has to do with the era, I’m not sure.  Sometimes it seemed that their dialogue was trying too hard to sound “of the era”.

The part I liked most was when Frankie interviewed refugees on the trains heading west to France, Spain and Portugal.  She recorded their voices telling their names and where they were going. It was haunting to read this section of the book.

I’ve read novels about the people (mostly children) who were sent out of London during the Blitz but never one that involved the people living in London not knowing each night if bombs would drop on them – or if their home would be intact when they came out of the bomb shelter. Their emotions were palpable.  I think Sarah Blake depicted the fear and desperation of the refugees as well as the people in London in a completely believable way.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Source: I bought it.

29 thoughts on “The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

  1. I read this not too long ago and I agree that I had a difficult time connecting with the character in the United States. To be honest I could have done without this part of the story all together. The aspects of the story in London with Frankie, and on the train, could have been developed further and I thought they would have been a wonderful story on thier own!

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  2. It’s interesting to read your comments about the dialogue — as a writer of historical fiction, I used to think I had to have them speak in the “era”…now I let my characters free and the scenes are usually so much more full of life 🙂

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  3. I’ll be starting this next week for a tour. I’ve heard such mixed reviews that I’m kind of anxious about whether I’ll like it or not.

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  4. I really did enjoy this book. I listened to it so that may have been why I was able to connect more. I can see where you thought the dialog was “written” and I think that may be where it benefited from having a narrator.

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  5. I, too, have seen such mixed reviews that I haven’t made up my mind if I’ll read it or not. If I do it will be one I borrow from the library. Recently someone on Twitter recommended this book to me and they LOVED it.

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  6. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews of this book. There is a lot of hype around it, and I don’t do well with hyped books – maybe I should pick it some time later!

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  7. I enjoyed this book a lot. I listened to the audio version and thought it was very well done. Perhaps a good narrator made the difference, but I found the story likable on it’s own.

    I saw it as more than a story about a letter and felt the title was misleading. The novel was Frankie’s story and how war affects people for the rest of their lives. The US characters were there to contrast peace vs war.

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    • Leslie, thanks for your comment. I may listen to it as you’re not the first to say the audiobook was good. I also understood that the novel was Frankie’s story and about the effect of war on the people who go through it. I just felt the US characters could have been more developed. That’s all.

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  8. You read this one pretty quick my dear and I will go in knowing what to expect now. I won’t be able to get to mine until next month unless I knock off a few one of the priority list. Heck… maybe that is what I should do …

    Your review was honest and it gave me a chance to prepare for it ahead.

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    • PK, thanks. I found out a book group I recently joined selected it for the March book so I needed to fit it into my reading schedule. I look forward to your thoughts!

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  9. I’ve been looking forward to this one. I always try to go into a book not expecting anything. I appreciate your honest review. I was feeling that way with Weird Sister, I didn’t feel connected with the characters. So, I put it aside and I’m finally getting out of a reading slump. I’ll go back to it soon.

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  10. Thanks for the honest review – I didn’t realize that the book portrayed Franklin as a town on Cape Cod – i live on Cape and my mom jsut moved to Franklin (which is off-Cape about an hour or so) so I wonder if that part of the story is fictionalized? I was looking forward to it cuz I thought it was more historical than fiction – hmm…I’ll have to see for myself – I’m in line for the audio…maybe it will be easier to listen to:) Thanks again!

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  11. I didn’t connect with this one, either. I thought maybe it was because I’d just read The Help, which was also written in shifting perspectives but was, for me, so much more enjoyable. I did like that part with Frankie on the train, though.

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