The Postmistress by Sarah Blake takes place during WWII and tells the story of three different women and how their lives interconnect due to their personal experiences of the war. Two of these women live at the very tip of Cape Cod. Iris is the middle aged postmistress of tiny Franklin, MA and she takes her job as postmistress very seriously. She believes in the importance of her job - especially during war time. Sweet, fragile, Emma is a new bride and new to Franklin. She has recently arrived in Franklin as the wife of Will, the town's young doctor. The third woman is Frankie Bard, a young American woman living in London and working as a radio broadcaster bringing the war home to Americans. Like Iris, Frankie believes strongly in the importance of her job. She is determined to transmit the real face of war home to America, where she feels everyone is very insulated from the truth.
The Postmistress is a good, if not great, book. I enjoyed the characters and the story. Frankie's story was especially compelling as she is concerned about the fact that Americans living stateside do not truly understand the effects of the war on the ordinary citizens of London and the rest of Europe. And it is true, that most of the residents of Franklin are not at all concerned about the war reaching America's shores or affecting them in any personal way. Frankie must censor what she says in her broadcasts due to regulations and she finds herself frustrated by this. She decides to travel to France in an attempt to gather more data on the lives of civilians. This aspect of the story is especially relevant now with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As much as I enjoyed The Postmistress the absolute best part of the story was the author's essay, "The Story Behind the Story", at the end of the book. In this essay Blake explains how she came to write The Postmistress and how the characters came into being. And further how she connected them into a story. Many books have author's notes that talk about their research and what inspired them to write that particular story. But Blake's essay is more than that. I can't really explain how, but she goes beyond merely stating the genesis of her ideas and her essay provides a clear and precise insight into the creation of this story and these characters. If you are a writer of fiction or a bibliophile, I think you will find this 4 page essay illuminating. Whether you read the book or not.
I would give The Postmistress 3 STARS - I liked it.
I would give "The Story Behind the Story" 5 STARS - I loved it.