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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Reason Read: Pleasure, Faculty Book Club Choice
Method Read: Audiobook

The Postmistress has everything I like -- it's historical fiction, it takes place in a small New England town, the main characters are strong women, it takes place at the beginning of WWII, however it wasn't the formulaic novel that I had envisioned (and truthfully, desired). That is not to say that I didn't like the novel, I did...I think.

The main characters, a female reporter, a doctor's wife and a female postmaster, find that the rumblings of the war in Europe affect each one of them differently. Though part of it does indeed take place on Cape Cod, a large part of it takes place in London where the female reporter is a war correspondent with Edward R. Murrow. (which the audiobook reader pronounces "mur o" with the emphasis on the second syllable which I have never heard before).

The doctor's wife and female postmaster both live in the same small village where the wife (Emma) has come after her marriage to the young doctor. She knows no one, and has no family, so the female postmaster (NOT "postmistress" as she points out) takes on the task of watching over Emma after her husband runs away to London to join the medical corps. He runs away due to a medical procedure that goes wrong and is unable to face the community. (the young doctor has a lot of baggage that is revealed as the novel progresses)

Okay, this is the part where I am supposed to say all the reasons why it is so well written and how the author did a fine job developing her characters -- all of which are true. But the shallow reader in me thinks that the ending is rather odd and unsatisfying, and that the male characters in the book are largely egocentric, selfish people who leave the women to suffer, and therefore I felt unsettled after I finished reading it.

Overall Grade: B-
Recommend? Yes

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