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Long ago, I believed that, given a choice, people would turn to good as they would to the light.  I believed that reporting — honest, unflinching pictures of the truth — could be a beacon to lead us to demand that wrongs be righted, injustices punished, and the weak and the innocent cared for.  I must have believed, when I started out, that the shoulder of public opinion could be put up against the door of public indifference and would, when given the proper direction, shove it wide with the power of wanting to stand on the side of angels.

But I have covered far too many wars — reporting how they were seeded, nourished, and let sprout — to believe in angels anymore, or, for that matter, in a single beam of truth to shine into the dark.  Every story — love or war — is a story about looking left when we should have been looking right.

(from The Postmistress, page 3)

As I sit here hours after finishing The Postmistress, I am still weighed down by this beautifully written novel.  I had long wanted to read this book, but after reading so many mixed reviews, I was uncertain.  However, I brushed these concerns aside and soon found myself lost in this story of three women in the months before the Pearl Harbor attack that ensured the U.S. would actively fight in World War II.

Reading the cover blurb, one would assume The Postmistress is mostly about Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, Massachusetts, who handles all the messages into and out of the town and one day decides not to deliver a particular letter.  But this event really has little to do with the plot, and the star of the show is Frankie Bard, a young reporter from New York who is stationed in London and broadcasts with Edward R. Murrow in an effort to bring the war to the doorsteps of the American public.  And in this respect, she is a deliverer of news, just not a postmistress in the way one would expect.

Iris and Emma Fitch — the young doctor’s wife who is left alone when her husband feels compelled to go to London during the Blitz and offer his services — both are drawn to Frankie’s broadcasts.  Emma wants to know what happens to people after the war upends their lives, while Iris often turns the radio off when the sadness or power in Frankie’s voice is too much for her to bear.  Meanwhile, Frankie is determined to tell the stories of the Jews seeking to flee Europe, but after what she sees in France and Germany, she is unsure what to do with the voices she has recorded.

I was captivated by Sarah Blake’s prose from the very first page, and I was moved by the stories of all three women.  However, Frankie’s story was the most interesting and showed the most character development and evolution.  In fact, I think her story alone could have carried the novel.  Even though a good portion of the novel is devoted to Iris and Emma, I never really felt like they were the crux of the story, and the way in which the three women were brought together didn’t pack a punch like the scenes when Frankie is covering the war.  Still, I was able to go with the flow and finish the book feeling like I’d read something worthwhile.

The Postmistress is about war and how it affects ordinary people, both those caught within the fighting and those who believe the war will never reach their homes.  It’s also about delivering news and the juxtaposition between needing and wanting to tell the truth as it happens and needing and wanting to protect people from that same truth.  And like the characters within its pages, I was left wanting to know what happened on the edges of the story and afterward, yet satisfied with what I’d been given.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in the blog tour for The Postmistress.  To follow the tour click here.

Courtesy of the publisher, I’m giving away 1 copy of The Postmistress.  To enter, simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and let me know why you want to read this book.  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only, and it will end at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, April 3, 2011.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Postmistress from Berkley/Penguin for review purposes. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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