Saturday, January 29, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Postmistress

The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake takes place during WWII as London is getting blitzed and Jews are being moved on trains all throughout Europe.  Frankie Bard is an American radio journalist living in London while reporting on the war.  She is passionate about her chosen profession and aspires to report on stories that truly matter.  She is deeply affected by the war that surrounds her and knows there are stories there that need to be told to those back home.

In Franklin, Massachussetts, the town is largely untouched by the war other than persistent concerns about whether the US will be drawn into the conflict.  Iris James is the Postmistress in the town and takes pride in her responsibility to the townspeople and those who send letters from all over to Franklin.  Emma Fitch is a new arrival to the town looking to quietly settle down with her doctor husband.  Although does not arrive on Franklin's shores both Emma and Iris will be impacted by the war in ways they never imagined possible.

The story moves back and forth across the Atlantic from London and other European cities to Franklin, MA.  It is interesting to view the war from both vantage points - Europe doesn't have the benefit of the innocence afforded to Franklin.  Things are darker in Europe as it faces the atrocities of the war while Franklin's exposure to the war takes place only via the radio waves as the residents listen to reports from overseas.  Frankie Bard bridges this divide with her reports from Europe; it is almost as if she feels an obligation to ensure that those not seeing the atrocities first hand appreciate the gravity of the situation in Europe.  She is also intent on telling a story that was largely under reported - the story of the evacuation of the Jews from countless European cities. 

Frankie rides the trains across Europe recording women, men and children who are being moved from their homes by the Nazis.  She allows them to identify themselves and the fear is palpable in their voices.  I think this is why this book works so well in audio - you actually hear them as they would have been heard on the radio and the impact is haunting.  The narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, expertly assumes accents to speak the words of the evacuees and really brought the scene of these radio broadcasts to life.  It is powerful and not something I will soon forget.  The Postmistress has a great story to tell and I am sure it is excellent in print but I believe this is a book that is particularly good in audio.  I am not alone in this opinion - check out this review from Heather at  The Maiden's Court.


  1. I enjoyed this in print, and can see how those scenes with Frankie would be extra compelling in audio. So glad to know that Blake's novel is enhanced in the audio edition.

    I'm listening to BIRDS OF A FEATHER now (the 2nd of the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear). It's a BBC production -the accents are wonderful, and really pull me into the story.

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  3. Thanks so much for your fabulous review! I'm glad that you enjoyed THE POSTMISTRESS. I was hoping you would. Glad I could recommend it.

    I'm definately trying to get people to listen to this one in audio. There are many that did not like the book. I think if they gave this a second try in audio they might really enjoy it.

    A wonderful story and one of Orlaghs finest narrations!

  4. I read this book almost a year ago and still think of it from time to time. I think I might listen to the audio as well - it sounds like it is just as good!

    I'm listening to The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult right now and it's pretty good!

  5. Glad to hear the audio was good. I enjoyed this one, but I did not like that she used the name of actual towns Franklin, MA, but was inaccurate about it's location in MA (not on Cape Cod). It bugs anal people like me.

  6. I like WWII stories, so perhaps I'll give this one a try on audio.

  7. I have this book in my TBR list. Thanks for the review, am glad you liked it. I bought this book by whim =) Will try to read it soon.And thanks for dropping by my blog

  8. Nice review! I can see how listening to this book would help put the reader really right in the middle of the story. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!