The Postmistress

The Postmistress

Downloadable Audiobook - 2009
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In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she'll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States. 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.
Publisher: [Ashland, Or.] : Blackstone Audio, 2009
ISBN: 9781441725769
Branch Call Number: OVERDRIVE
Additional Contributors: Cassidy, Orlagh
OverDrive, Inc

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Cdnbookworm Oct 25, 2012

This novel jumps back and forth between London, England and the small Cape Cod town of Franklin, Massachusetts in the months before the United States entered World War II. In London, we have American journalist Frankie Bard, first giving war commentary on the radio to folks back home, and later travelling into Germany and German-occupied France to gather the story of refugees.
In Franklin, we have Iris James, the postmistress, a strong, upright woman who has recently fallen in love with an older man, Harry. She knows that Harry is the man for her and takes the step of getting a doctor's certificate proving her virginity, a document that means a lot to her and she believes will mean a lot to Harry too. Iris is a watcher, watching the people of the town, their comings and goings, and caring about them. Harry is also a watcher, but he is watching for threats from outside, specifically for German u-boats. Every day, he goes up in the town hall and watches the ocean.
New to town is Emma, the doctor's new wife. Emma has led a life filled with loss, with both her mother and older brother dying in the influenza pandemic when she was a child. Her relationship with Will gives her a home and the love she has craved. They are very close, but Will feels the need to prove himself as a result of his late father's reputation in town. As a new doctor, when he loses a patient, he takes it personally and struggles with the guilt he feels around it. The need to make penance for this drives him away from his home and Emma toward danger in a move that sets him down a new path.
Also, in Franklin a more minor character, Otto, has a role. Otto rooms with Harry and works for him in the local garage, and has an obvious German accent. The townspeople make assumptions about him and treat him as a threat to them, imported from the war overseas.
As we see these stories evolve, and eventually come together in a way that brings all these lives to a meeting place, we see the effect of the war and people's choices on others.
A wonderful story, with strong characters and interesting storylines. Seeing war through different eyes with focus on the home front and the refugees results in a very engaging read.

samdog123 Sep 26, 2012

Certainly not the most positve book I've ever read, but I don't think it was supposed to be. Characters in New England and a foreign war correspondent connect during the war. Frankie Bard, reporter, tries desperately to let the world know what is going on in Europe. There are some fascinating descriptions of European jews tring to flee on the trains in the early 1940's. Very moving and enough to break your heart. I liked the way the characters connected in the last half of the book, enjoyed the reader on this cd.

mayfairlady Jun 07, 2011

great narration...
the recordings on the train are very moving

Mallory_MPL Feb 10, 2011

This story begins in at the beginning of World War II in 1940 before America allied with Britian. In a small town on Cape Cod called Franklin, Iris James is the postmistress. She controls the flow of all communication the country has with the rest of the world and with each other. She believes it is her job to keep and deliver people's secrets, to pass along the news of love and sorrow that letters carry.

In London, England, a young reporter, Frankie Bard, is delievering the story of the Blitz and the rounding up of Jews to the people in America, hoping that if they hear the story they will feel compelled to help.

Each night, Iris, Emma Fitch and Dr. Will Fitch listen to Frankie Bard's radio dispatches. Until a misfortunate incident causes the doctor to believe he is meant to be in London, helping with the war effort as best as he could by offering his medical services.

One night Frankie's and Will's lives intersect when they meet in a bomb shelter. Their meeting leaves Frankie wondering what the point of telling this story really is.

The high points of this novel was the interviews that Frankie had with the Jewish refugees. When she was telling their story there was no mistaking the power in her voice. The fact that I read this book as an audio book made it even better because the accents and intonations were perfect.

I didn't really like the story around the actual post-mistress because I think that someone's dying wish ought to be respected. Too many people tried to interfere in Emma's life and did what they thought was best for her without actually asking the grown woman what she wanted.

Overall it was an OK story about World War II, but I felt that where it tried to be deep and thought provoking it often fell up short.


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