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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

V.V.B.C. The Postmistress Review (Online Book Club)

Vicarious Virtual Book Club
The Postmistress Review
(Online Book Club)

UPDATE: I am in the process of launching a new website that will be a resource for finding and sharing family traditions. Please sign up to be notified when it launches!
Thank you!

NOTE: My husband, Ed, and I had the opportunity to attend our nephew, Eric Watkiss' retirement ceremony from the Navy at the National Reconnaissance Office (which is an amazing story for another day!) Long time friend, and fellow Sister Chick Book Club member, Nancy Hooper, agreed to write the review for this month! Thanks, Nancy! You did a great job! Y'all jump in and comment!


The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake

Sisterchicks met as usual, the third Monday of the month (July 19, 2011) at our usual Starbucks.  Carol Edge was our discussion leader.  Though Carol was nervous about this being her first time to ‘lead’ we all agreed she did a fine job keeping us engaged in discussion and theorizing.  She needn’t be nervous again.

Short Synopsis:  In 1940, Iris James the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts becomes aware of all sorts of details about the townspeople.  It is unthinkable, but, she conceals a letter given to her ‘with conditions’ and finds herself unable to deliver it once she fears its contents will bring additional pain.  Additionally, a news reporter during World War II is witness to an accident that will break long-held hope to shambles for that same individual.  Understanding that random acts happen without explanation or apologies become a hard pill to swallow.

General consensus of The Postmistress was “liked” by the 13 Sisterchicks present.  However, there were some who stated they felt the writer failed to keep their attention, that the story “dragged at times”, early character development was confusing, and that a specific plot had not been clear.  But, staying with it was rewarded with not only a plot but, interesting stories from all sorts of people in all sorts of situations; un-nerving/unwanted/horrific.  Some events happen by choices we make (i.e. Will leaving his new wife to be a war doctor).  We felt the author’s research was adequate and that our interest in World War II events was heightened.

Many of us felt that we learned much about news reporting and that there exist many reasons why today, as opposed to the 1940s, the ‘news’ we hear is already dissected, nothing is left to the imagination and the listeners are not given chance to develop a personal opinion/response. Reporters today seem eager to have exclusive rights to a story and want to create a specific ‘reaction’ from readers.  It is believed that much of the news today is politically motivated and we lose confidence that we are hearing the whole truth.  Many broadcasters seize the power to influence public opinion.  News today is too much reporters’ perception vs. reality.  Most people do not want to be naive – hearing only what we can handle, or what we want to believe - but they do want to be given the choice to draw their own conclusions and then have personal investment in making things different/better.

We all loved the main character, Frankie. She was said to be brave, gutsy, independent, “loose” (just once), and a trail-blazer.  Reporting the news caused her to become aware of (and often involved in) the personal hardship, grief, destruction, and intimate heartache of those who experienced a terrifying war all around, and repugnant attitudes of those far removed from it.

Much of our conversation included members’ recollections of war-time events either personal or that of relatives; in particular, letters of engaged or married relatives exchanging life, love, and horrors of war in letters sent during WWII.  Also noted was that some of these letters, though personal, had been governmentally ‘blacked out’ (censored) of what might be considered sensitive material; secrets could be leaked through such correspondence.  (Again, we felt much is ‘handed to the enemy on a silver platter’ by all the instant news reporting we have today.)

Many felt the story ended too soon.  We wanted to write (imagine) our own endings: giving Will & Emma’s baby a name, that Otto’s hope would be realized in seeing his wife alive, to see Frankie years later using her recordings to educate everyone on the realities of war.

Themes that presented themselves: general public complacency to persecution; the injustice and inhumane treatment toward individuals regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, conduct; denial ( i.e. ‘holocaust never happened’ or ‘wasn’t as bad as people said’) exhibited by Europeans and Americans alike; racism/prejudice/bigotry; bravery (particularly of Frankie traveling during WWII Europe alone with responsibility to find “the news” happening, record it, to stay safe, then bring the story ‘home’.  What a perilous assignment.)

Our group, as diverse as we are, enjoys the camaraderie. We are careful to consider all comments as valid.  I, for one, am glad to be a part.  We had a new member join us both last month and this.  Others are welcome anytime. We’ve not outgrown the room yet.

Submitted by Nancy Hooper

1 comment:

  1. I finally finished the book. I liked it. I wish, as Nancy said, that some of the "unfinished business" had been finished. It's hard to imagine never knowing what happened to your loved ones. We are so spoiled by our current instant communications technology!


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