The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake – Book Review

Cover - The Mistress, by Sarah Blake

Cover - The Mistress, by Sarah BlakeEmma is a new bride who comes to town when she  marries the  young doctor, Will Fitch. Frankie Bard is one of the first female journalists assigned to covering the war overseas, and though she is supposed to be dispassionate, sometimes the gravity of events creeps into her voice anyway. Iris James is the new Postmaster, single in a mostly paired off small town,  intensely dedicated to ensuring that the mail runs like clockwork.  The story hinges upon and unfolds around them as a commonality they share is affected by war.

The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake is a beautiful tale that examines the weighty and confusing issue of  truth – when it needs to be told, under what circumstances, and who deserves to hear it.  Thoughtful observations on people and the singular events which cause them to take action, and the complex situations and the atrocities of war abound- I learned quite a bit even as I was deeply touched by this novel.

I almost missed the boat on this one because I was so turned around when I started reading that I almost put it down.  There are numerous characters whose stories we follow in this novel, and Blake introduces them in rapid succession with little to signal that she has moved from one person to the next.  It was disconcerting because for quite some time I had no definitive idea of the stories that matched each character, and I did a lot of flipping back and forth in the book trying to figure things out until I was grounded in each character and their story.

Characterization in this novel is not only intricate but finely  shaded, and my responses to the characters and their actions were mixed. I was often troubled and constantly flip-flopping on what I thought was the correct response to the moral and ethical dilemmas each of these women faced.  Even now, I’m still not sure of what the right thing was to do, and what I would have done if in the same situation, but I thorough enjoyed contemplating all the angles in this gorgeous read.

Highly Recommended.

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28 Comments

    1. It was tough to write about. I didn't want to spoil the experience for the reader!
      My recent post How Do You Like Your Classics?

    2. It was tough to write about. I didn't want to spoil the experience for the reader!
      My recent post How Do You Like Your Classics?

    1. I had considered reading that book awhile back and just never got around to it. It's funny that I have never really thought about the mail. It's one of those things I just take for granted.
      My recent post How Do You Like Your Classics?

  1. This one seems to be "the next The Help," which I guess makes sense as it's by the same publisher. I am glad everyone really likes it, and that you stuck with it long enough to enjoy it!

  2. I've noticed this one months ago and after reading some not so favorable reviews I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it. I will defiitely have to read it now!

  3. I enjoyed this one, too. So many characters to glom onto and so many interesting new ways to look at a war that I thought had been covered from every angle.

  4. I'll definitely have to get my hands on this one soon. The cover is striking and I love historical fiction, especially in times of war! Sounds great!
    My recent post Book review: ‘Almost Home’ by Pam Jenoff

  5. Well, I have read a lot of mixed reviews on this one, but after reading your thoughts and your highly recommended rating I'm going to get my copy off the shelf and read it!!!

  6. I saw lots of great reviews and just had to read this book, and fortunately I just one a copy –thrilled to say the least. I so happy to read your great review; glad u enjoyed this one.

  7. I must make time to read this one soon. I'm so glad you loved it!
    My recent post young adult book review & giveaway: L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

  8. I really have been wanting to read this one but a lot of characters like you describe mixes me up as well. I like to get to know the characters and prefer books with fewer so I have a chance to get to know them.

  9. I've read a lot of positive reviews on this one but really appreciate your review which reminds me that I may need to be patient when I start this one in order to keep up with all of the characters. If I know that going in I won't get frustrated! Thanks!

  10. I can't wait to get to this one for book club.
    My recent post Featuring . . . The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

  11. Well this definitely sounds like an interesting read. I really like books that go outside of linear narration and kinf of mix up story lines but eventually you figure it all out. I find Louise Erdrich's writing to be like that a lot of the time. At first, I have all the characters mixed up and I don't really know what to think. But at the end, I know that one thing is for certain: the story has moved me. I think I would really enjoy this book and I'm definitely going to add it to my TBR list.

  12. I was beginning to think no one liked this one but the reviewer in Entertainment Weekly. I am glad you did though as it's one I am really curious about. Thanks for your great review, Nicole.