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The Postmistress

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  35,154 Ratings  ·  5,117 Reviews
Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible burden...
Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, "The Postmistress" is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.
On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on
326 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Viking (first published December 24th 2009)
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Eleanor Oxford dictionary says 1940s
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There are tons of great stories set during WWII. This is not one of them. It's not even much of a story, it just sort of meanders and then peters out. The main characters aren't much more than plot devices or symbols; in fact, the only people worth caring about are the mostly nameless refugees fleeing the Nazis, and the Londoners living through the Blitz. The sections of the book focusing on them are actually great. But if you want a book about a fascinating female character during the war, read ...more
Apr 18, 2011 Alexis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This books leaves way too much to be desired. Blake's book is purportedly a gripping glimpse into the lives of three women whose experiences during the second world war become interconnected. Unfortunately the only thing gripping about this book was the overwhelming sense of confusion that envelopes the reader in his or her attempt to understand why this woman's book was actually published. The attempted interconnectedness between the three main characters is contrived, forced, and unconvincing. ...more
Aug 16, 2010 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Snooze fest. I had a difficult time finishing this book. And, in the end, I never really "got it." I wanted more of an emotional punch. Three storylines wove together in the small Cape Cod town of Franklin in the months leading up to the U.S.'s involvement in WWII. So, there were 3 opportunities for catharsis. I had zero. Blake managed to draw things out for one of the two love stories so that by the time the character comes to terms with her loss, the reader thinks "weeep womp. Long time coming ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Chanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aaawww... dang it! I've been sitting here for three full minutes vacillating between two stars and one. It was o.k or I like it... o.k..... like it- no it was just o.k..... but I did like it... sort of....

The dilemma stems from the writing. Wow. This was more beautifully written than The Help- and that's tough for me to say because I adore The Help but the language Blake used, the description, the rhetoric and irony- it's quality stuff and literally took my breath away- for the first 75%. The c
Sep 24, 2009 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Postmistress” is set in the years 1940-41, both on Cape Cod and in Europe. The reader follows the paths of three women – Emma, Iris, and Frankie – as Europe experiences Hitler’s fury and Americans wonder if they will enter the war. Emma has just married Will, a doctor on Cape Cod. She wants to make a good impression on the people there, and make a good home for her husband. Iris is the Postmaster of the same town Emma moves to, and watches over the people of the town. Frankie is a reporter ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Maggie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This book has the potential to be great, but it's not. I had to force myself to finish it. This book read like a rough draft. With some major editing and workshopping it COULD have been good. Unfortunately, it was almost unreadable for me.

I was interested in all of the main characters, but because the author jumped from different points of view so often, I felt like none of the characters were actually very developed. We only got a glimpse of each one. Also, there were many scenes that felt the
I discovered this book after reading a friend's glowing review of it. From her review, this sounded like a book that I would love, the kind that I gravitate toward, and for the most part, it fit the bill perfectly.

This is a story that examines many sides of an issue, namely war and injustice, and how we're all, whether we know it or not, affected by that issue. We can ignore it, we can rail against it, or we can face it head on, but it will affect us just the same.

Sarah Blake tells her story w
Jul 27, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Okay. I didn't hate this book. I love WWII historical fiction about women, and the idea behind this novel is really pretty interesting and compelling.

But - I am SO SICK of these characters in modern novels about WWII that are so "compassionate" and that act like they understand the war and the horrors that came with it so much better than everyone else around them. It just feels so contrived to me. It comes off as preachy and somewhat historically unrealistic - it always makes it seem very clea
Aug 13, 2010 Agatha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Juxtaposes the stories of 3 women in 1940-41: an American radio correspondent reporting from Europe to try to get America to enter the war; a young American wife whose husband has gone off to volunteer his medical services over in England; the postal worker in the NE/Cape Cod-ish town of above young wife and husband.

Blegh. This is a bait-and-switch book. Pretends to be a substantial, historical fiction *; really is an ephemeral novel. Bait-and-switches are the worst of all bad books in my opinio
Like many others have noted, this book started slowly for me, and was a little confusing at first. But by the end, I loved it, and the stories it told. Set in the years just before the U.S. entry into WWII, this tells of the lives of three American women, each impacted by the looming war in various ways. The heartbreaking stories of Jewish refugees fleeing the advance of Hitler's armies is central to the life of one of the women, while the other two watch and listen, via the nightly radio broadc ...more
Mar 04, 2011 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am re-reading this book for a discussion group in two weeks. The first time I read it, I loved it. It will be interesting to see what the somewhat finicky ladies in the discussion groups think about it. I remember the atmosphere of the book more than the characters; the setting was familiar and the era of WWII is always fascinating. Now, I need to do discussion questions for it, maybe find author interviews, etc.
Feb 15, 2010 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book was interesting. I'd definitely hoped for more. I couldn't keep track of whose overall story this book was telling: Emma? Iris? Frankie? It seemed heavily favored to Frankie and hers was the most boring of the three. I think the author was far too caught up in her historical research. I wanted more of the people behind the story and less of the description of bombs going off in London. Although, I have to admit, it brought that piece of history to my mind and taught me a ...more
Haley Mathiot
Mar 07, 2010 Haley Mathiot rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Genre: Fiction
Rating: DNF

(No Summary.)

The thing about reading is that you need to pick up the book, and be wrapped up in it. It needs to flow well. It must be readable. It must be understandable. Words create sentences and sentences create paragraphs, etc.

When I started reading The Postmistress, I felt like I’d jumped into the middle of a book, in the middle of a series, with no idea who was who or what was happening or even who the narrator was. The sentences d
Nov 28, 2009 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jackie by: Cathy and Joe
I've read a lot of books that have examined life in the early days of WWII, but never one like this. Blake's novel concentrates on 3 American women during 1940-41. One is an ambitious reporter fighting the glass ceiling of war reporting over in Europe who finally gets the opportunity of a lifetime that ends up completely changing her life. Another is a somewhat OCD postmaster (it's actually incorrect, according to her, to call her postmistress) working in a small town near Cape Cod who struggles ...more
Oct 23, 2015 Marla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
As I listen to this I realize I have read this before. This is a very good book. In 1940, Frankie Bard goes back and forth across Europe interviewing the refugees and trying to get their stories on air to America. Emma Finch is married to a doctor who feels he needs to go over to the war and help out after losing one of his patients. Then there is Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, MA where Emma lives. Slowly their lives unfold as they get closer to having their lives meet. Very beautiful ...more
Feb 20, 2017 Shopgirl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pal-de-noël
Quel coup de coeur !
Ils sont rares les livres qui transportent autant et vont ressentir des émotions aussi fortes. Ce qui est intéressant dans ce roman, c'est de voir la guerre du côté des américains, cette attente qui ne dit pas son nom et l'impuissance qu'il en ressort.

A travers le personnage de Frankie, c'est le métier de journaliste de terrain et plus généralement l'humanité qui s'interroge : comment témoigner de la vérité crue de la guerre ? Que se passe-t-il réellement pour les juifs en
May 12, 2010 Jackie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
The Postmistress is a novel of if. "If I tell this story in exactly the right way, people will hear it and act on it," thinks the reporter. "If I don't make mistakes, the system will be perfect and chaos and random chance will be kept at bay," thinks the postmistress. "If I think hard enough about my husband being safe, he will be," thinks the woman left at home as her husband goes off to London during the Blitz. But if is a double-edged word and sometimes it falls the other way, and we're left ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can honestly say I didn't love this book. And yet I can not give it a bad review. It is simply so well written and executed, drawing up the strings of the random pieces and painting the picture of the story of Emma, Frankie, and Iris that it left my heart pondering.

So the story introduces us to Iris, the postmistress, at a doctor's appointment asking for a paper indicating she is intact. She then rides the bus back to Franklin and she passes the narrative to a young wife, Emma Fitch. Emma is r
Oct 17, 2010 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book because the majority of the book was so beautifully written. I loved the fact that it chronicled the lives of three very different women during WWII, a postmistress, as per the title, a doctor's wife, and a female journalist. It really is not that often that you get to hear the perspective of a women, reporting behind enemy lines, during that period of history. I found Frankie Bard's story to be the most gripping of this wonderful trio.

Blake writes so magnificently in parts of
Lois Duncan
My daughter, Kerry, sent me this book, thinking that I would enjoy it as much as she had. I didn't.

It's well written from the viewpoint of a radio news woman and describes in heartbreaking detail the horrors Jews experienced during World War II. But the author obviously meant for it to be more than that. Other characters were thrust in here and there, but they were superfluous. I kept thinking that it was building toward some conclusion, that everything would come together, and the reader would
Deborah Edwards
2011 has not been a stellar book year for me yet. I had read a couple of real dogs lately and thought this book might be the literary equivalent of a "palette cleanser," the way one nibbles a little pickled ginger root in between portions of sushi and wasabi to bring the senses back to a place of moderation. "The Postmistress" appeared to have an engaging plot, a setting to which I could relate, and several female characters to whom I might potentially feel a kinship by the end of the book. Yes, ...more
William Breakstone

“The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone, January 22, 2011

A real estate colleague of mine recommended The Postmistress by Sarah Blake to me several weeks ago. This novel never appeared on the bestseller lists, for reasons I can’t understand. It was a terrific read! Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, offered this compliment which appears on the dust jacket of the book: “Great books give you a feeling that you miss all day, until you finally get to crawl back insi
Jan 21, 2010 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Postmistress was a book I was looking forward to It has a pretty cover and a sort of Girl Power title don't you think? The Postmistress, a female, will be someone everyone in the town will have to deal with at some time, she will have authority over all things mail or will it turn out to be male? hmmmm....

The time is 1940-41 and the newly appointed Postmistress of Franklin, Cape Cod is 40 year old spinster Iris James. Iris sees herself as the very ethical bastion of order in a chaotic and di
I had a really hard time getting into this book, and in the beginning I almost gave it up. But I told myself to give it 100 pages. If I didn't "feel it" by then, I would abandon it. The writing style in beginning of the book was so manic and clipped that I had a hard time following it. It didn't "flow" for me. I have to assume that this was intentional, displaying the mania of the war and the brevity of life. I felt no connection to the characters. I couldn't even keep the characters straight, a ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Joe says:

A book that began slowly, with many characters whose stories got a little mixed up in my mind, but that at the end of the book, had emerged as distinct and heart-breaking characters, whose voices were, indeed, united. A World War II novel unlike any I have read, this book takes us into the streets of London during the Blitz, into the refugee trains filled with desperate Jewish people trying to leave Germany, and into a sleepy Massachusetts town just beginning to wake up to the realities
Aug 23, 2010 Nan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My sister
Shelves: world-war-ii
I received a copy of this book for free, sent by the publisher to my now-defunct Waldenbooks store. Our store closed before the book was released, so I didn't read the book as quickly as I might have done if I was going to recommend it to our customers.

This book will have a wide audience. Many people will love it. If I were still working in a bookstore, I would recommend it highly.

I started reading the book after 10 p.m. last night, and I had to force myself to go to sleep at 1 a.m. This morning
May 14, 2015 Lorrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kat
This book was extremely powerful. Very, very good!!! The author, Sarah Blake, writes with precision that is so descriptive, you can just see everything. I'd have to recommend listening to the audio. The lady who reads is articulate, doing different European dialects so well. The setting is WWII in both Europe and the USA. Three women's lives cross in such an interesting way. There is wonderful philosophy in this book, which I personally love. I haven't read such thought provoking philosophy sinc ...more
Pam Jenoff
Nov 22, 2016 Pam Jenoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How have I not written about this one yet? One of my very favorite books of all time, it tells the story of Frankie, a reporter broadcasting from London who finds herself increasingly drawn into the war and Iris, a woman in a small New England town whose job it is to deliver the mail -- until the day she decides not to do it. Heart-wrenching and unforgettable -- bring tissues!
Jul 03, 2010 Margaretann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sarah taught high school and college English for many years in Colorado and New York. She has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, MA, The Writer’s Center, in Bethesda MD, The University of Maryland, and The George Washington University. She lives in Washington DC with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

More about Sarah Blake...

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“every story - love or war - is a story about looking left when we should have been looking right.” 28 likes
“It is the story that lies around the edges of the photographs, or at the end of 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?” 24 likes
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