Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

This book was lying around in my office and being a Postmistress, I was intrigued to read a story portraying my job back in a time when letters really mattered - and a lost letter mattered even more.

A letter not delivered, slipped into the pocket of the Postmistress and, another letter, found by a Reporter, which she vows to deliver - both from the same man - are at the heart of the story. This is a beautifully crafted novel about three women whose fates entwine because of these letters.

I absolutely loved Atonement, so when I read this book had a similar storyline, I knew I was in for something good.

It's a war story with depth. The Americans are not yet a part of World War 2 and they don't see it ever reaching their shores. "How easily the face of the world turns away." (Pg 251). A reporter returning from the Blitz trying to make people aware. A wife wondering why her husband went to London to help when he could have stayed safe at home. A Postmistress neat and orderly in her small town post office, aware of the chaos that could come, but for now, all is calm on the shores of Cape Cod...

Blake has included some additional notes once the story concludes, which are invaluable to a wannabe author if you want to see exactly what must go into writing and researching a novel to make it the very best you can. She spent hours and hours researching to build the story and she asked questions of herself and her characters every step of the way. She then endeavours to answer those questions as the story unfolds. In Blake's own words: "It is the story that lies around the edges of the photographs, or at the end of the newspaper account. It's about the lies we tell others to protect them, and about the lies we tell ourselves in order not to acknowledge what we can't bear: that we are alive, for instance, and eating lunch, while bombs are falling, and refugees are crammed into camps, and the news comes toward us every hour of the day. And what, in the end, do we do?"