Sometimes the patterns that you start to see in your reading and real lives become eerily synchronized. You begin to feel that the moons are aligned, or there is some alien up there playing with their version of a Rubik's cube, and your face is on one of the squares. Take, for example, this book, "The Postmistress". I got REALLY pumped about its release about a year ago, bought it on my Kindle on THE day it published, and it sat there until I was invited by Lisa to review it on the TLC Blog Tour. This situation may not sound familiar to you, but this is almost exactly what happened with The Lotus Eaters, which, after all that waiting, became a five star read for me in 2010. There has got to be a lesson in all of this somewhere.
But not only are the circumstances of reading the books the same, but both novels are about strong women coping during a time of war. Both books even feature a female journalist. And ultimately, I loved both books immensely. Here is a little about "The Postmistress":
Synopsis: 1939, three women, one war, one man. In London, Frankie Bard is a young, feisty radio journalist who is determined to tell the world what is happening...the bombs, the death, the Jewish refugees, the randomness. Across the ocean, in a small seaside town in Massachusetts, Iris James, a middle-aged postmaster, watches over her town, and all information about this threatening war, the letters and telegrams, passes through her hands to the townsfolk. Emma Fitch, a young bride, visits the post office daily to hear word from her new husband, a doctor that joined the efforts in London after tragically losing a patient here at home. All three women are linked together by the invisible common thread of Dr. Fitch, Emma's husband. Little do they know that Dr. Fitch will cause each woman to question their faith, their morals, the meaning of war, and their reason for being.
Surrounding these women are a very diverse, complex cast of characters. A widower with five small children, a quiet Austrian Jew who pines for his missing wife, a mechanic who finds love with Iris late in life, a little boy who lost his mother in a London bombing, and a myriad of refugees whose recorded voices tell the story of their lives.
My thoughts: Even though I initially bought this book with high expectations in February 2010, the subsequent reviews were mixed and my interest waned. A year has passed, and I went into this read with my heart a blank slate. Granted, I will admit to having a bit of an obsession with war novels, particularly WWII, so there's that. But I was unprepared for the flood of emotion that filled me while reading this book. It swept me away, and I ended up reading this book in only about two days. (I drug my Kindle around with me like a security blanket...in the car on the way to church, at a football game, by the stove while I was cooking, while I was waiting to pick up the kids. It received preference over my iPod, and that is a huge statement for me.)
Each of the women had very distinct characters, each likable but flawed. Frankie spoke the loudest to me...full of that kickass mentality you must have to exist in a man's world, but ultimately affected by the horrors of war, and desperate to do something to make a difference. All of the women, though, made choices as a form of mental survival that were contradictions against their best instincts. And I didn't blame them.
The images drawn by Blake, scenes of bravery and loss, as seen by Frankie in her European travels, are something that will stay with me for a long time. Very brief but vivid, graphic scenes, human stories from men, women and children who probably didn't live out the day...they made an imprint on my heart. It drove home the point that we often don't get to see what happens to the people with whom we cross paths. Did they live, or die, did they someday become reunited, did they reach their destination? We never know, and this is what haunts Frankie and drives her to take the actions that she did.
Halfway through the book, I began to question the title of the book. "The Postmistress" would imply that the book centers around Iris and her post office in America. And a piece of the story does hinge around her. But the bulk of the plot rested heavily on Frankie's shoulders, and that is when it dawned on me like a slap upside the head. Frankie IS the postmistress, and it is her that is narrating at the very beginning of the book. (If you've read the book, are you now saying "Duh"? Maybe I'm slow. Don't laugh!) I love it when I have these epiphanies and all the pieces come together.
So yet again, another book, languishing for months on my (virtual) shelf, only brought to the forefront by the nudging of Lisa at TLC, rocks my world. (And yes, of course, it IS an Amy Einhorn imprint.) Put this one on your must list.
5 out of 5 stars