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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful & harrowing: a must read
My initial impression (from the cover and back page blurb) was "eugh, romance, not in the mood". Then one day I picked it up, read the prologue, and just didn't stop. This is beautifully written, intimate, heart-breaking, and so very human. Reading it creates an almost painful happiness; there is an honesty to the story that carries you through even the most painful...
Published on 27 May 2010 by A.M. Harte

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
The quote from Kathryn Stockett on the front cover swung the purchase for me having thoroughly enjoyed her own book The Help.
I was really looking forward to an unusual tilt on a well worn road. But the descriptions are overly "wordy" and frustratingly inaccurate, since when did London have "blocks" ?
The characters and the plot were boring and one dimentional...
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by buddy boo


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, 23 Feb 2011
By 
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
The quote from Kathryn Stockett on the front cover swung the purchase for me having thoroughly enjoyed her own book The Help.
I was really looking forward to an unusual tilt on a well worn road. But the descriptions are overly "wordy" and frustratingly inaccurate, since when did London have "blocks" ?
The characters and the plot were boring and one dimentional. Things that should have been explained were not and things that didn't need an explanation were hammered home ad nauseum.
I felt some empathy for Harry Vale and his untimely demise but it was just scanned over and as for poor Maggie well.....
The lost potential here was huge, Buy it if theres nothing else you fancy but really ? don't bother.
Buy The Help instead.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed..., 24 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
With such a great front cover and all the hype around it, I too wanted to love this book. I even found myself quite excited when I started reading the first pages. I was looking forward to a great read...

Alas, I nearly gave up halfway through the book.

I was indeed expecting a story where the postmistress is the main character, which she is not. I consider that Frankie Bard, the American reporter, is that central character. So, why call the book the postmistress when she does not actually play such an important role in the story?

I was also looking forward to that bit mentioned on the back cover "But one night in London the fates of all three women entwine when Frankei finds a letter - a letter she vows to deliver".

First, I would not say that the fates of the three women really entwined, if anything, they all met within the very last chapters and were either ignoring/avoid each other or bickering (Frankie and Iris).

Second, that letter... the one that seems to be so important according to the back cover. Well, it never gets deliver, we are never told what it contained. For chapters and chapters, we were reminded of that letter travelling through the continents in Frankie's pockets, the suspense nearly became intolerable... Until you realise that Frankie will not give it to Emma and that you can forget all about it! What a let down.

Harry Vale: when I was reading the last moments of hid life, I was thinking to myself "Ah come on! This is so far fetched it gets ridiculous". Yes, he was right all along, the U-boats were coming and he has a stroke at that very moment... No, way too much for me I'm afraid...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unrealistic?, 12 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
I wanted to love this book - the idea of a female war correspondent was interesting, covering a subject that was new. However, I felt the research was not adequate for the European section, and that the plot had a lot of holes, mainly because many of the characters behaved irrationally. The logic was not helped by what I now assume is a printing error in the book - I think the section dated Winter 1941 should have been Winter 1940.

A war correspondent could not have taken a ferry from England to France in 1941 - Britain was totally cut off, and the only link was by bomber (and not American Douglas bombers as mentioned!). An American could also not have run down to the London docks on the spur of the moment to get a boat to America - the seas were a battleground, and she probably would have has a long wait to get a boat travelling in convoy from Liverpool. Incidentally, there were no 'keep calm and carry on' posters in Britain - that famous poster was a design that was never used, as it was felt to be insulting, as people in Britain were already keeping calm and carrying on. Also, the British posters said `careless talk costs lives' - not `loose lips sink ships'. It made me wonder about the other facts - I doubt if even a neutral American could easily have moved around Europe on trains, and surely most refugee movement in Europe took place in 1939-1940. If you hadn't got out by then, it was too late.

As far as people behaving irrationally - if my husband in a war zone had not been in touch for months, I would have been on to the authorities to make inquiries, not just hoped a letter would turn up eventually. And if I were a landlady to a person in a battle zone who went missing, I would inform the authorities, and have them investigate, not just merrily write to tell a wife that he hadn't come home. And the letter at the heart of the story? It just didn't matter. It changed nothing.

All in all, the novel is an interesting idea that didn't fulfil its promise
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful & harrowing: a must read, 27 May 2010
By 
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
My initial impression (from the cover and back page blurb) was "eugh, romance, not in the mood". Then one day I picked it up, read the prologue, and just didn't stop. This is beautifully written, intimate, heart-breaking, and so very human. Reading it creates an almost painful happiness; there is an honesty to the story that carries you through even the most painful tragedies, and makes you want to reread each line so that you too can bear witness to the bravery, keep those characters alive one moment longer.

PLOT: The story is set during World War II. It follows three women whose paths cross due to unexpected circumstances: Iris, a postmistress in Franklin MA; Emma, wife of Franklin's sole doctor; and Frankie, a radio gal reporting from war-torn London. The war touches all of their lives in very distinct ways, but just as it is not a romance, this is not a war novel, either. What matters is the people: their stories, their choices, and their mistakes.

THOUGHTS:
Where to begin with my no doubt senseless gushing?

Sometimes when you read a book you become one with the main character, and you feel like you can stand between them and their destiny, or at least help them in their plight. Not so with The Postmistress. Here you stand alongside the story, and as much as you ache for the characters all you can do is watch and bear witness to their struggles.

This may explain why something that would generally annoy me -- the point of view sliding between characters -- did not bother me at all. Not only was it smoothly done, but it felt right to be able to know each character intimately. After all, this is not some murder-mystery with plot twists to conceal; this is real. Every person counts. Pay attention.

I'll admit, it's not an easy read. The parts that really hit me the most were Frankie's -- reading about London being blitzed, people hiding in tube stations, people dying.... The young boy who goes home and finds his house gone, only the front door standing.... Then Frankie travels throughout Europe, on the refugee trains, seeking for the truth and just trying to get the news out to America, to tell people to pay attention, but no one does. It made me cry.

Which brings me to the writing. You know when you read a paragraph that's so right but you can't pinpoint why, and you just have to re-read it a couple times to savour it? That's how I felt reading this book. I think it's the small details; Blake captures the little things in life that matter without us realizing they do. And on the second read it has only gotten better as I'm noticing the interwoven subtleties. I want to write like this. I want my words to have this effect on someone, someday.

Even the ending, which so often disappoints me in a novel, is somehow right. I really cannot think of anything to improve on. It's gripping, enthralling, emotional, insightful, and best of all the characters are real people. There are no heroic knights or distressed damsels. There are only people -- people like you and me -- living through very difficult times.

In sum, this is not the kind of book I thought I would like, but I am so very happy that on that day I looked left instead of right and got a copy, because it's the best book I've read in a long, long time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time !, 19 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
Despite the previous reviews, I decided to go ahead and purchase this book as to be honest I was drawn by the cover and the blurb and reviews on the back of the book. However, I struggled through to page 126 and the end of chapter ten(200 pages short of the end) when I finally decided that life really was too short to continue with a book I wasn't even enjoying ! I didn't like the style of writing, I didn't warm to any of the characters and to be honest I just didn't get the story (probably because there isn't one !) This may sound a bit harsh but you come to realise that sometimes you have to accept certain books are not for you.9( and this one certainly wasn't for me.)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much but fails to deliver, 25 July 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
I love novels about WWII, and this looked very promising. But I wish I had read the reviews on here first and saved myself the money!

I found it superficial and slight. The characters had little depth and I didn't care what happened to any of them. I wasn't even moved by the refugees' stories because they have been portrayed much more convincingly elsewhere. I felt that the writer was often just going through the motions and didn't really care about her characters any more than I did. I forced myself to get to the end in case there was a great revelation that made it worthwhile. There wasn't.

It was reasonably well written but for me the book had an unwarranted sense of self importance, as if this author was the first one to ever to reveal the issues.

As others have mentioned, there are various irritating errors such as Frankie's miraculous train journeys in occupied Europe, and her barely mentioned journey back to the US. Oh and the u-boat off Cape Cod which is immediately forgotten about after it executes the necessary plot point.

For a compelling, imaginative book about WWII buy The Book Thief or The Reader. This book doesn't compare with either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If only ..., 28 Feb 2012
By 
Bookwoman - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
There's a really great story at the heart of this book: it's 1941, Europe is in the thick of the war while the USA teeters on the brink, as three women - a war correspondent, a Cape Cod postmistress, and a lonely doctor's wife - are linked by radio broadcasts crossing the Atlantic.
But all the way through I kept wishing she'd chosen to tell it differently, and when you're constantly re-writing a book in your head it makes for a bumpy and frustrating read.
The author has added a handy 'story behind the story' postscript at the end which partly explains why I didn't enjoy it more. It's one of those books that started with an idea (and worse still, an idea in the form of a single image), and the narrative was invented to illustrate it.
If only she'd done things the other way around. There's a wonderful novel about a war reporter like Martha Gellhorn just waiting to be written, and if only she'd junked all those 'Atonement'- lite themes and just told the story, letting the images and ideas flow more naturally. If only she'd concentrated on two women and those broadcasts across the ocean, backed up by a decent cast of secondary characters, dispensing with the postmistress's love affair and all those tiresome and clunky metaphors about secrets and lies and undelivered mail.
It's all a matter of opinion, of course: that's not what she chose to do, and other readers might really like this book. But I don't think that anyone could disagree with my final complaint - if only she'd done a bit more research. Plenty of reviewers have pointed out all the anachronisms and other howlers, and there's really no excuse for them, either from the author herself or her editors.
(There's no excuse for that cover, either. All those contemporary photos from Life or Picture Post to choose from, and someone opted for an Annie Lennox lookalike sporting full 1980s make-up instead?)
But she does write beautifully and there are some good scenes in bars and railway stations. And I can forgive her a lot for leaving me with an almost Gatsby-like image of those lights on the eastern tip of the USA shining over the Atlantic towards Europe, with the German u-boats prowling in between.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great moments, 11 Oct 2011
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
I had mixed feelings about this book - on the one hand there were some wonderful descriptions and thoughts on the personal implications on war, but on the other, there were a lot of strangely structured sentences that made me want to send the author a copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves. Unfortunately it was the sentence structure that slowed me down and reduced my rating to three stars.
If you are stalling on the first half, however, the second half does flow better and I read the last 125 pages at one sitting in the early hours.

Iris has recently moved to the small American town of Franklin to become the 'postmaster' in a small local post office. She is efficient and often abrupt and seems to stand a bit aloof from the locals. The opening of the book is somewhat strange, as we meet her visiting a doctor to obtain a certificate to prove that she is still a virgin. She wants to have this to offer Harry Vale in case he should propose!
Emma is newly arrived in the town, the young wife of their local doctor. She is so young and defenceless that I really felt for her as she arrived in a new place. As a youngster she lost both her parents and now feels that unless she is loved she will just disappear, cease to exist. That idea really captured me.
The third of the book's women is Frankie Bard, the strong young reporter, determined to make a difference. Her observations on the effects of the Blitz in London during WWII were some of the most powerful I have read. She then goes into Europe to report on the stories of the Jewish refugees, and her frustration with the impossibility of taking a story right through to the end, was palpable - haunting her through voices that she records on an early recording machine.

It is the actions and interactions of these three women, and their men, that formed the basis of the book. An excellent hanger on which to attach the observations and feelings for war that Sarah Blake so excels at.

I do find it strange that the book is called The Postmistress but the picture on the front of my book must be of Frankie, who is young and blond, rather than Iris, the postmistress, who is older and red-haired!
I'm glad I read this but hope that the author's next book will be slightly better edited and a really great read.
3 1/2 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to deliver (pun intended), 13 July 2011
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
For me, this book was merely `ok' which I hate admitting because I'd had really high hopes for it and the premise sounded so interesting- not only that, this book had been incredibly hyped up. Somehow though, although the book was a pleasant enough read it just never really seemed to get going and I found it hard to really get to know any of the characters. You are never fully pulled into the story alongside them and perhaps it is this sense of distance which has made me feel a bit indifferent to the plot as well.

Poor research aside (I won't elaborate on ferries, trains, Americanisms etc as other reviewers have already picked up on that!) I feel that this book had the potential to be something much better than it is. The author's writing style is quite elegant and concise and she is able to create a scene quite well in your mind, so it's a shame that the plot itself is all over the place and reads more like a textbook in places. Some bits work quite well- others just don't seem to fit or aren't elaborated on enough. I also feel certain stronger aspects of the book were too quickly glossed over- for example Frankie travelling by train through occupied Europe- although admittedly a bit far-fetched, that part of the story could have been built on much more strongly than it actually was since the author decided to chuck it in there. There were a lot of bits that were also left unresolved- whether deliberately or not it just felt a bit lazy to be honest and like the author ran out of steam.

In terms of character development, I felt this story fell a bit short and the characters behaved a bit irrationally in parts. You are introduced to three female protagonists and out of all of them, Frankie had the most going for her- she's depicted as a sassy, strong-willed reporter. By contrast, doctors wife Emma seems to have been deliberately written to be weak and a bit bland and the postmistress herself as very standoffish and dull. I have to say though, I didn't like any of the women really- though out of all of them Frankie was the most interesting. Out of the male characters, only Harry had anything about him and he doesn't feature heavily enough.

My favourite bit of this book? When I finished it! To be blunt, I've read much better books set during this era. I wouldn't recommend this one to be honest- its only average and I don't think I'll be reading anything by this author again. Don't be seduced by the pretty cover, don't waste your money and don't waste your time.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual war story, 22 July 2010
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
I loved this book. It was bought on a whim but proved to be an enlightening read. I knew nothing about the America journalists who were reporting the war and I like every book to give me an insight into something new to me. The story is simply written but the author has the ability to take you into situations and allow you to have a clear picture in your head. She also left some situations unresolved so you could try to put your own ending to the individual stories.
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The Postmistress
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Paperback - 7 Jan 2011)
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