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The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Some stories don't get told. Some stories you hold on to. To stand and watch and hold it in your arms was not cowardice. To look straight at the beast and feel its breath on your flanks and not to turn--one could carry the world that way.
from page 309

I recently read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake; it was a long wait before it came in. I have mixed feelings about it... It's beautifully written, enough so that I'm thinking about looking up other Blake books, however, I'm not so sure there's a point because I feel as if nothing happened in this one when clearly things have happened. Maybe it's due to the ending which was a kind of non-ending for me; I felt as if it wrapped right before the end of the story and now it's like, what was the point of all that?

It's 1940 and the second world war is underway in Europe while America watches and listens and holds her breath, uncertain of the future and unwilling to send her boys over to die in a fight that isn't hers. The Postmistress tells the overlapping stories of Miss Iris James, the spinster postmaster of tiny Franklin, Massachusetts; Emma Fitch, the new doctor's new wife; and Frankie Bard, intrepid radio gal, a reporter who files stories with the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Emma, orphaned since childhood, has been alone in the world until she marries Will, Franklin's newly minted doctor. Then tragedy propels Will across the ocean to London to volunteer in the city's hospitals that are overrun by victims of the relentless Blitz of fiery destruction and devastation that Germany rains down on the city. Back in Massachusetts, Iris and Emma listen to the reports that Frankie files over the radio; they are accounts of life in Blitz ravaged London and then they are accounts of her experiences travelling throughout Germany and Vichy France. What Frankie can't say over the airwaves, what the German censors black out, is the plight of Europe's Jews. They are travelling, trying desperately to get out before they're deported to camps or killed, before they disappear, and it's these encounters, with the silent, desperate, disappearing masses, that make an indelible mark on Frankie. She's determined to bring these stories back to London and to America.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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