A historical fiction novel that shows a unique perspective on the effects of WWII on women in London.
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I don’t read many historical fiction novels. But when I do, I try to read ones that are as unique as possible. This one really popped out to me because I had never read about a columnist – even in a non-historical fiction book. I was interested in seeing the direction that the author would take with this story and the way this character would be affected by war.
Dear Mrs. Bird
Published March 5, 2018 by Scribner Book Company; Reprint edition
Data from Goodreads
Summary (Goodreads): London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.
I actually quite enjoyed this story. It was very wholesome and sweet and uplifting during a point of time in history where things were dismal.
The Pros: What worked for me
- I thought Emmeline was a very spunky heroine. She was strong-willed and bubbly and I liked her character very much.
- The author also showed good writing skills by staying true to the mannerisms of that time. This may not seem that important to you but it is a personal pet peeve of mine when stories use modern slang or vocabulary that is not consistent with the setting of the story.
- I also thought that the perspective chosen for this story was a very good one. It allowed the story to showcase some of the more emotional concerns women faced during this time period. There have been other books that have looked at the “woman back home” and her struggles, but this story showed different effects that the war had on them. It also shows a shift from maintaining “proper” decorum to addressing the needs of women. I really appreciated that aspect of the story and the way characters became aware of this shift.
The Cons: What I didn’t like
- There were definitely parts of the story that were clichéd but with this novel, I chose to not focus on them and it didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
Overall, I quite liked this book. Despite its stereotypical events, I thought it had nice characters and an interesting perspective. For those reasons, I’m giving it a solid 3/5 stars!