Thursday, 1 November 2012
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake - Review
Frankie Bard is a reporter who wants to get to experience the real life stories she hears covered on the Radio, about life in England during the war. She travels to England where she has a tragic chance encounter with Dr Trask, the husband of Emma.
Emma Trask, fragile and alone in a small town she does not know - Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is pregnant with her first child and waiting for her doctor husband to return from England.
She is befriended by Iris James, the postmistress of the book's title, who is involved with the town's mechanic, Harry, who is obsessed with watching for German U-boats.Most of the neighbours think he is crazy, and that the Germans will never appear in their small town. Iris is in charge of delivering the letter to Emma which was given to Frankie by Emma's husband.
The book centres around the lives of these three women, who eventually meet up near the end of the book. The plot is more complex than I can outline here, and that goes too for the themes in this book. It is extremely well-researched and detailed - history that feels real. Towards the end there is a moving chapter where Frankie travels the route of Jewish refugees through Europe, the chaos and randomness of war is movingly explored in this section.
This is a piece of literary fiction that explores how humans are apt to assign significance to random events, about what we decide is newsworthy and how we select what to remember through the media. It is a story too about love and loss and the unexpected, and the small stories that happen on the fringes of larger stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and anyone interested in this period of history.