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19 of 20 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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17 of 17 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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17 of 17 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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7 of 7 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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5 of 5 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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19 of 20 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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4 of 4 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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6 of 6 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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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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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great potential missed, 27 Sep 2010
By 
Suzie (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
This sounded so full of promise - the early years of WWII from an American perspective and, according to the blurb, "...an unforgettable story of three women: their loves, their partings and the secrets that they must bear, or bury." Sadly, for me, it didn't live up to expectations.

The paperback edition to which this review refers is exquisitely presented and I can understand why one reviewer bought it for the cover alone. It also has moments of stunningly beautiful writing, but none of this made up for the lack of empathy I felt with the main characters. Of the three women, only Frankie Bard, an American reporter who sent despatches from London and occupied France during the blitz, felt like a real person, someone I could get to know and whose feelings I might understand. The other two, Iris James, the eponymous postmistress, and Emma, the doctor's wife, seemed two-dimensional, more like cardboard cutouts than real people. In the end I didn't particularly care what happened to either of them. To say more would give away too much to those who might yet read the book.

What really annoyed me though and spoilt the rest of the book for me began with a passage on page 11. After the opening lines of Yeats's `The Lake Isle of Innisfree', the sentence that follows, `Bombers flew above the wattles, over an England filled with the songs of linnets and thrush', sits ill. With so many English poems the author could have chosen, why choose one so eminently Irish? Having passed this niggle I nearly abandoned the book in disgust when I read on page 25 of `...antiaircraft fire over the chimney pots and the distant medieval spires of Westminster Abbey. Spires? On Westminster Abbey? In any event, although their bases date from the 15th century, the distinctive twin towers weren't added until some 300 years later, during the 18th century - hardly medieval.

Another problem is the changing viewpoints within a chapter. Just as you become absorbed in one character, the next paragraph shifts you to someone else's thoughts, which I always find disorienting.

Judging by most of the earlier reviews, though, other readers are more forgiving. And maybe it's just me, but some of the conversations between characters seemed abstruse, so that I found myself wondering if these were the sorts of things real people would say to each other.

There is little doubt that Sarah Blake can write. The idea for the story and the way the three women's lives eventually mingle certainly have five-star potential, and once you read beyond what are, in my view, serious howlers, the story becomes more engaging, mainly because Frankie's experiences of the blitz are compelling. It's enjoyable enough, but it misses out because the characters never really come alive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mind boggling boring, 27 May 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
I bought this book for a holiday read after picking it up on a number of occasions to get into it.......in the end I lost the battle of wills and left it on one of the hotel tables. Sorry to anyone who may have picked it up hoping for a good summer read like me, it was in my opinion too complex to get your head around the relevance of the characters. Wish I had read the reviews on Amazon first!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 26 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
Iris James is the new postmaster of Franklin; she spends her time watching the townspeople and keeping their secrets. Emma Fitch is newly wed to the local doctor and moves to the Cape Cod town, she is desperate to find her niche and have someone to look after her. Frankie Bard is a journalist, covering the war in London, reporting back to America via radio. The war is far removed from the town, but it affects all three women.
Unfortunately, I can't say I enjoyed it. Yes, it's well written and there were parts when Frankie was in Europe that I found compelling, but overall I was underwhelmed and glad to get to the end.
All the major characters are either watching or being watched, this made the book feel claustrophobic but also strangely removed. The idea of keeping secrets and withholding information fitted well into the wartime setting, but I couldn't really see the point as it all ended the same anyway.
The idea of being the story of the edges of the photo is mentioned at several points and I felt that as a reader I was being kept at a distance, very much at the edge and the whole thing was rather superficial. The love stories woven through just didn't touch me and so the losses were correspondingly less affecting.

I think it's best to sum it up as a "classic book club" choice as there is lots to discuss, but not necessarily enjoy. It looks great, parts are beautifully crafted and there was evidently huge research behind it all, but I just didn't get it.
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The Postmistress
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Paperback - 7 Jan 2011)
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