06 April 2011

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress is a wonder. 

The Postmistress

It is a book about: war, women, reporters, volunteers, meaningful connections, 
accidents, fortune, misfortune, love, heartbreak...and so much more.

I made copious notes as I read this book; however, as I sat down to work with 
them my access to the book via the lending library that I use, expired and   


my notes were gone.

I'll do my best though ~

I love the connections this book makes. First, I must say that this work is historic fiction. It is based on truth: WWII facts are present but do not bog down the story, women reporters were occasionally used in WWII on radio broadcasts, and at least one U-Boat surfaced off the coast of the United States (I can't recall if it was more than one, thanks to losing my notes and access to the book file), portable recording devices as used in the book were used sparingly toward the end of the war.

When something of critical importance is happening in the world and it also happens to be tragic what can be done about it? Anything? Something? Can one person do anything appreciable to affect the outcome of something as substantial as a WORLD WAR? 

As I understood the author, yes, we can affect change, but even so, some things are going to remain unpreventable.

In this book one of the characters, a doctor, volunteered and then traveled to England to serve. He helped one person at a time, for hours at a time. While in a very sad and unchangeable situation in the states he found that even though he was surrounded by horror in England, he also became a very happy and fulfilled person. That did not mean, however, that he did not desperately long for his newly-wedded wife...with so great a yearning that it affected his very being. He tells a fellow character that "it all adds up". 

A different character voluntarily watched the coast for the surfacing of U-Boats and predicted the Germans would arrive, sooner or later. He knew he would be right even though he did not want to be.

One character is harassed by the town's children for being a Kraut. In reality he is an Austrian Jew whose wife is in a French internment camp. He longs to be reconnected with her.

Another character travels to England to report on the war. Her intent was to tell the story of the Jews so that others could know the truth; more truth than was being allowed by the news services at the time. She didn't know how exactly she would accomplish the task but it just sort of came together, on its own, in a brilliant manner. She faces incomprehensible horror while accomplishing her task. She succeeds in finding a way to capture the stories of a finite group of people who are fleeing Germany with the hope of clinging to their lives and loved ones. At the same time she ends up being partially responsible for the death of a person and feels as though she lets down a small boy who was looking to her for support and guidance in place of his mother who was not allowed to accompany him. So, does it all add up?

From that point, though, what would happen? After each story was told what happened next? What was the rest of the story? Is telling part of the story enough? What happens if the hearers of the story do not DO anything about what they hear? Does everything still add up?

I mentioned connections; many are made. Some are satisfying, some are heartbreaking. What war story, I ask you, won't hold some sadness though? 
This story, amazingly, managed to hold many moments of: 
happiness, tenderness, love... 

Life holds all of that; the good and the bad. This story does too.

~ ~ ~

If you enjoyed the Book Thief by Marcus Zusak you will probably enjoy this book too. If you did not enjoy the Book Thief it is still likely that you will enjoy this selection as it is not told in the same manner that The Book Thief was told (with Death being the Narrator). The stories are similar though, in that they do not only focus on war even though it is a major theme in both books.

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