#314 ~ The Postmistress

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Published by: Amy Einhorn Books

Published on: February 2010

Page Count: 318

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Reading Format: Hardcover purchased from Powells.

Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audiobook

Giveaway: Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Postmistress. (US/Canada only)

tlc-logo-resizedToday it is my great pleasure to be Sarah Blake’s host on her TLC Book Tour.  This tour is to celebrate her novel, The Postmistress.

I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours.  They always have great books and authors on tour.  Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.

My Review

The Postmistress tells the story of three very different American woman during the time before their country entered into World War II. Iris and Emma are both fairly new year long residents of Franklin, Massachusetts, a summer destination along Cape Cod. Iris, a woman approaching middle age, serves as Franklin’s postmaster. As a female, she is a curiosity to the town. Soon, she earns their respect for running an efficient, orderly post office. Emma moves to Franklin after marrying her husband, Dr. Fitch. His family has a scandalous past, yet he still returns home to start his medical practice. Since losing her entire family to illness, Emma clings to Will with all her might and has a difficult time feeling comfortable in Franklin. Frankie, like Iris, is a woman ahead of her time. She is serving as a war time correspondent in London under Edward R. Murrow. She fights against the general perception that only men should report on the war. As the German bombing intensifies, she finds herself wanting to discover and tell the true story of the war. In doing so, the lives of all three woman are brought together.

The Postmistress and I got off to a bumpy start. At the very beginning, Iris sees a gynecologist for the express purpose of confirming her virginity and receiving certification of that fact for a man she believes may interested in her romantically. The doctor was aghast and so was I. While I understand that proof of virginity was once an important thing, this still took me out of the story before it really even started. How is it that a woman who made a postmaster of herself would feel the need to become a “certified virgin” for a man is beyond me. I’m sure that there are logical reasons why a successful woman might make such a decision, but this didn’t endear me to Iris and I never fully overcame it.

Thankfully, Iris didn’t play as much of a role in the story as the title might otherwise suggest. The heart of the novel was with Frankie as she covered the war in Europe and found herself on the trail of the true story behind what was happening to Europe’s Jews. This part of the novel completely engrossed me. I felt as though I was in London with her, always on guard for the German bombers. I understood how important newscasters became to Americans back home and why Edward R. Murrow became so revered. I loved Frankie’s fire and courage in the face of the enemy and the news censors.

I asked to join this TLC Book Tour to “force myself” to finally sit down and read Sarah Blake’s novel. I’m so very glad that I did. The sections of the book in Europe reawakened my interest in a time period I sometimes tend to avoid. While I may have enjoyed the book been focused entirely on Frankie, I appreciate the connection back to the  United States. It is that connection that packed a punch at the end of the novel. It is that connection that sparked Frankie’s evolution as a person and as a reporter. This novel wouldn’t have been the same without it.

Sarah Blake’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, March 1st:  You’ve GOTTA Read This!

Thursday, March 3rd:  Amusing Reviews

Friday, March 4th:  Musings of an All Purpose Monkey

Monday, March 7th:  Caribousmom

Thursday, March 10th:  Book Reviews by Molly

Monday, March 14th:  One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books

Tuesday, March 15th:  Book Club Classics!

Wednesday, March 16th:  Debbie’s Book Bag

Thursday, March 17th:  In the Next Room

Monday, March 21st:  Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, March 23rd:  Red Headed Book Child

Thursday, March 24th:  Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, March 25th:  Life in Review

Monday, March 28th:  Suko’s Notebook

Tuesday, March 29th:  Books and Movies

Wednesday, March 30th:  Stephanie’s Written Word


  • At 2011.02.28 07:47, Jennifer-Girls Gone Reading said:

    I am surprised to see that the one part with Iris bothered you so much. I guess I thought it was weird, but you are right…you never get that attached to Iris so it barely matters. Overall, I loved The Postmistress, and it was one of the best books of last year.

    • At 2011.02.28 08:05, Sandy said:

      I know, I didn’t really “get” that whole certified virginity thing. It didn’t add to the story, and it didn’t really match up with Iris’ personality. But be that as it may, it didn’t detract me from the story, which I fell in love with. It brought back The Lotus Eaters, with strong female characters in a time of war. I had been sitting on this book a year, and the invitation to review it for TLC got me off my butt. I’m so glad I did!

      • At 2011.02.28 09:16, Mary said:

        I’m so glad you liked this. I was on the fence about reading it until my book group chose it – I just bought it for our discussion next month. Nice review.

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        • At 2011.02.28 11:56, Lisa Munley said:

          Certified virgins, oh my. I didn’t know women ever had to endure that. Even though it doesn’t sound like it was a big part of the story, that’s a memorable little factoid. Thanks so much for being on the tour, Jennifer!

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          • At 2011.02.28 15:52, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

            I struggled at the beginning of this one because of the transitions, but ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

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            • At 2011.02.28 18:21, Kailana said:

              I really enjoyed this book when I read it last year. Glad you ‘forced’ yourself to read it and enjoyed it!

              • At 2011.02.28 20:23, Pam Keener said:

                Thanks for the review and giveaway.
                Love & Hugs,

                • At 2011.02.28 20:45, Emma said:

                  Here is what I wrote in my review on this book last October:

                  Interestingly, the topic could have been as depressing as the previous book I just reviewed, The Weight of Heaven.

                  Bu I believe it was treated from a totally different perspective, with the journalist for instance in the midst of her work as a war reporter, and the postmistress at her post office. The interaction between the lives of three women at the heart of this novel is very well done. I listened to it as an audiobook, and it was really gripping. If you like historical fiction set in World War II, this book is for you.
                  Emma @ Words And Peace

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                  • At 2011.02.28 22:04, Jennie said:

                    The beginning through me off too – but overall I really enjoyed this novel.

                    • At 2011.03.01 07:58, Marg said:

                      I enjoyed this one when I read it last year, but as you say there were definitely a couple of issues with it. Totally agree that Frankie’s part in the middle of the book where she was travelling around Europe was the strongest part of the book, and is the part that has stayed with me the longest.

                      • At 2011.03.01 11:30, Crystal Gilland said:

                        Thanks for the review and giveaway. I would love to read this!


                        • At 2011.03.03 10:45, gwendolyn b. said:

                          I do love reading about this period in history. I can understand how Iris’s actions regarding certifying her virginity would seem really odd these days, but there were times and places where a woman’s virginity WAS her only real bargaining chip. I’m certainly glad that is no longer true! I’d really like to read THE POSTMISTRESS and it’s high up on my wish list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy and for sharing your reactions so honestly!

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                          • At 2011.03.03 12:26, Virginia B. said:

                            I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book. It seems people will either love it or hate it, and that will make for a good book club discussion.
                            Thank you for your review and a chance to win.

                            • At 2011.03.03 15:33, Short Story Slore said:

                              Just read this book last week because Sarah Blake was making an appearance at a bookstore near me. I was also thrown off by the beginning with Iris, but I loved Frankie right off the bat and Emma grew on me. It was interesting to view the was from Europe versus in America without covering a soldier’s perspective. And the parts at the train stations and the boy separating from his mother had me in tears! So glad I read this.

                              • At 2011.03.04 14:04, Kate {The Parchment Girl} said:

                                This book first caught my attention because my great grandmother was a postmaster only a few years after the events in this novel took place. Then I learned it was set in MA, which is where I am from. Still, I haven’t actually read it yet.

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