I received a copy of this book through Barnes and Noble's First Look program. I have been really impressed with B&N's picks and this one is my favorite so far.
THE POSTMISTRESS takes place in the early years of WWII in both Massachusetts and London. In a small town on Cape Cod, Postmaster Iris James runs a tight ship until one day, she decides NOT to deliver a letter. On the other side of the Atlantic, American Frankie Bard is working for Edward R. Murrow delivering coverage of the war in Europe for American listeners. One night, in a bomb shelter, Bard meets a young doctor from a small town in Cape Cod. The stories of the two places become inextricably linked from that point forward. The story moves back and forth from the United States to Europe and uses the radio as a transition point. The reader can be in London "listening" to Bard's latest report and be transported to New England to the small Cape Cod town mid-chapter. These transitions are abrupt at first but the radio proves to be a compelling link among all of these storylines. The book brings those early years of the war to life and reminds all of us what a much different war it was for those in England and Europe than for those of us in the United States. Frankie Bard witnesses unbelieveable tragedy and loss that left me weeping many times throughout the story. Blake weaves a deft tale about the consequences of war on relationships, love and secrets and the choices we have to make in difficult times.
This book reminded me of what a powerful tool radio is. I happen to be an avid NPR listener. There is something so intimate about radio. There is no intrusion of images and it often feels as if the radio personalities are in the room with you. With radio, new stories can be fleshed out and more in depth than the 15 second snippets you get with television. In WWII, this was the main source of news for everyone. It connected the United States with the rest of the world. Blake reminds us of all of that through her book.
This book will be released in February 2009.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. This is a very moving work that really brings those early WWII years to life. It would be a great companion book to THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY. However, this book has a greated depth of emotion and power to it somehow. Keep a kleenex nearby!