Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake


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 State'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. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.
The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right. (Image and synopsis from

My Review:

This book was beautifully written and started out with an intriguing premise. What if the postmistress of a town didn't deliver the mail during a war. What chaos may ensue?  How would people communicate with those overseas?

But after that promising entrance, the book kind of meandered. At first I thought the book would focus on the postmistress of the town in Cape Cod, but we followed a journalist (who was narrating the story) through Europe for most of the plot. When we were in the town with the postmistress, the reader followed two women, the postmistress, Iris, and the young wife of the doctor, Emma. The two women both seemed kind of depressed. I understand why Emma was since her husband was in England treating hurt victims of the war, but Iris just never seemed happy about anything in her life, even when she started seeing a man.

The part that I liked the most was when Frankie Bard, the reporter, traveled to and from Germany collecting voices of refugees on her new recording device. It was during this time that we saw the tragic impact of WWII. Frankie witnessed brutal murders and exiles of Jews from Germany.

I understand that this book was suppose to weave the story of 3 characters, Frankie, Iris, and Emma during WWII and the tragedy that they each face. However, I felt that each story from the characters lacked enough breadth to make their story convincing. I was also disappointed that the story started out with the postmistress supposedly not delivering mail... but she only kept one letter and I don't think that had any impact on the characters. So, why was that how the story was introduced?? This book should have been called the journalist, not the postmistress.

The Postmistress was written beautifully, but the story didn't match up to the writing. What did you think about this book if you read it?

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


  1. I'm with you a hundred percent on this one. I thought it was going to be great, but it just sort of lost steam and petered out. And that's a great point -- why was it called The Postmistress? That part with Frankie was the part I found most absorbing, too.

  2. I wasn't terribly impressed by this book either. I especially hated how it ended. I thought she made her characters suffer just to make them suffer, which I'm not a fan of.