The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Emma 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 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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