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The Postmistress    by Sarah Blake order for
by Sarah Blake
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

It is the Fall of 1940 and World War II is raging in Europe. London suffers under the Blitz. Life for everyone in America goes on as normal. The Postmistress follows the lives of three women, who are brought together through letters.

In Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod, forty year old Iris James runs the local post office. She knows everyone in town, handles all their mail, and even keeps their secrets. Iris is keeping her own secret too. She is attracted to Harry Vale, the town mechanic, and Harry is showing an interest in her. They had both given up on finding love, and are slowly getting to know one another. Iris listens to the radio broadcast out of London and she knows it won't be long before the war is on their doorstep. Harry is convinced German U-boats will soon appear on their beaches.

Iris welcomes newcomer (and newly married) Emma Fitch to town. When Iris first noticed Emma arriving by bus, she thought she saw a young woman running away from something. Emma married Will Fitch, the local doctor, and has arrived to start their new life together. After both her parents died, Emma felt lost and alone until she met Will. Now she is basking in his love and security, and dreams of starting her own family. Every day Emma and Will listen to the radio broadcasts from London and feel they should be helping in some way.

In London, American Frankie Bard works as a radio journalist, covering the London Blitz. Frankie wants America to know what the English people are going through and believes her country should get involved in the war against the Nazis. She travels to Europe and rides the train with the Jewish refugees who are trying to flee. She sees death and destruction all around her, and she captures stories on tape for the rest of the world to hear.

After Will loses a patient in childbirth, he decides to go to London to help with the wounded, and to feel that he is making a difference. Emma and Will write letters daily to each other, and as long as Emma receives them she knows Will is still safe. One night while in a underground bomb shelter Will meets Frankie Bard. Although their meeting is brief, Frankie ends up with a letter she should mail to Emma. Frankie also has knowledge of why Will will not return to Franklin.

Nothing should stop the mail, not even bad weather, but what happens if a postal employee refuses to deliver a letter? There are two keepers of letters in this novel, Iris and Frankie. Both withhold information that could break Emma's heart if delivered. The Postmistress is a beautiful, passionate story of love, and human nature. It is unforgettable.

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