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Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake

In Reading on August 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

This morning I finished The Postmistress, a novel written by author Sarah Blake. Out of 5 stars, I would give it somewhere between a 2.5 and a 3.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it follows the lives of several people during World War II– primarily, the years 1940 and 1941. As in any war book, there are bound to be some chapters of sadness and others of redemption. Although there were scenes in which violence occured, it was less graphic than other war books I’ve read. This, to me, is both good and bad. The story is not primarily about the war, exactly. It’s mostly about the lives of people–Frankie Bard, Iris James, Emma Fitch, Will Fitch, and Henry Vale– during the war years. I enjoyed that aspect about it because they were still the same people before the war, but they could not ignore the changes and occurrences of their daily lives that happened in the early 1940s.

I also really enjoyed the trans-continental aspect of it. The stories take place in London and a small northern Massachusetts town, and they eventually intersected through various actions. I found it interesting because in London the Blitz is occurring when the story opens. However, back in the states, the war hasn’t even touched those people directly like that. Blake gave two very different perspectives which I found necessary to explain the feelings and actions of the characters.

I loved the U-boat angle to the novel. I wrote a report my freshman year in college about the U-boat plan to invade and attack America’s shores. I voluntarily read a 300 page documentary about it and then wrote an 18 page paper full of information that astounded me. Did you (even WWII buffs) have any idea that U-boats were so, so, so, close to our shores? They were at Cape Hatteras, they were only miles from New York. Assimilating the search for U-boats off Franklin, Massachusetts in the story was a great way of incorporating little known history.

Blake’s writing is descriptive with an underlying melancholia that echoes through the entire novel. Each of the main characters faces an internal and external problem, which are separate but in the end entangle within the other people’s problems. Blake’s story (or stories, really) dives into the issue of morality and self  preservation. Each character seeks a purpose in life and each fears he or she is slipping through the cracks. In these aspects the book was very relateable to me and I’m sure to many people who have experienced similar feelings.

However, the novel did present some negatives. For one, the postmistress was not (in my opinion) the protagonist. I believe Blake wished to portray Miss James as some sort of omniscient and all-powerful being in control of everyone in town and the other characters. However, I believe it is not Miss James but Frankie Bard who is the protagonist. I do not wish to give anything away for those who haven’t read it yet, but the ending itself proves that Frankie really is the all knowing and all powerful one. She, in a way, is very much like a postmistress.

Also, the love between Emma and Dr Fitch wasn’t very convincing. I was sure there was something underlying between their marriage, but I was unable to figure out what that was. Emma simply seemed a little one dimensional in comparison to the other characters, which was a shame since the plot definitely revolved around her.

I felt that Blake read Atonement, saw a postmistress walking around one day, and tried to find a way to connect those into a novel. Some of the plot felt too forced (I don’t want to go into detail for those who haven’t read the book yet), as if she saw a few dead ends and tried to correct them without completely succeeding.

Overall, this book was OK. I did enjoy the history/war aspect and that it focused more on the people than the war itself.

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Summer Reading to 8/03/12

In List of Summer Reading, Reading on August 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm

A List of Reading I’ve Accomplished Thus Far–

note: all but 9 are old reads…I really can’t explain why I love re-reading novels so much, but I suspect any fellow reader can understand. I recently bought 3 more books at Barnes and Noble while attending a book-signing, but I will post them as I continue to read. Well versed readers should recognize most of the titles.

1. The Secret of the Old Clock– Carolyn Keene

2. The Hidden Staircase– Carolyn Keene

3. The Bungalow Mystery– Carolyn Keene

4. The Mystery of Lilac Inn– Carolyn Keene

5. The Secret of Shadow Ranch- Carolyn Keene

6: The Secret of Red Gate Farm– Carolyn Keene

7: The Clue in the Diary– Carolyn Keene

8: Nancy’s Mysterious Letter– Carolyn Keene

9: The Sign of the Twisted Candles– Carolyn Keene

10: Password to Larkspur Lane– Carolyn Keene

11: The Clue of the Broken Locket– Carolyn Keene

12: The Message in the Hollow Oak– Carolyn Keene

13: The Mystery of the Ivory Charm– Carolyn Keene

14: The Whispering Statue– Carolyn Keene

15: The Haunted Bridge– Carolyn Keene

16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time– Mark Haddon

17: The Clue of the Tapping Heels– Carolyn Keene

18. The Perks of Being Wallflower– Stephen Chbosky

19: Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk– Carolyn Keene

20. Tuesdays with Morrie– Mitch Albom

21: Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion– Carolyn Keene

22: The Quest of the Missing Map– Carolyn Keene

23: The Clue in the Jewel Box– Carolyn Keene

24: The Secret in the Old Attic– Carolyn Keene

25: The Clue in the Crumbling Wall– Carolyn Keene

26: Mystery of the Tolling Bell– Carolyn Keene

27. The Proposal– Mary Balogh

28. A Night Like This– Julia Quinn

29. What Happens in London– Julia Quinn

30. Just Like Heaven– Julia Quinn

31. The Duke and I– Julia Quinn

32. The Viscount Who Loved Me– Julia Quinn

33. An Offer From a Gentleman– Julia Quinn

34. Romancing Mister Bridgerton– Julia Quinn

35. To Sir Phillip, With Love– Julia Quinn

36. When He Was Wicked– Julia Quinn

37. Derby Day– D.J. Taylor

38. It’s In His Kiss– Julia Quinn

39. On the Way to the Wedding– Julia Quinn

40. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever– Julia Quinn

41. The Lost Duke of Wyndham– Julia Quinn

42. The Winter Sea– Susanna Kearsley

43. An Echo in the Bone- Diana Gabaldon

44. The Postmistress– Sarah Blake

To read (so far) by end of summer: Incindiary– Chris Cleave, 1776- David McCullough

Reading is like my addiction. Once I start I cannot stop. I may take long breaks (it’s impossible to read for fun in college….) but I’ll always find a new read! As the end of summer draws closer it’s harder for me to read more. I think it’s because I’m too nervous and preoccupied thinking about Scotland. But I wanted to post this just to collect and organize all of the reading I’ve done this summer and to give you all a taste of what I’ve been reading. I really hope I’ll get to the last two, but if I’m not in the mood to read a depressing novel (Incindiary) or a lengthy documentary (1776) I won’t read it (yet). Feel free to comment or even recommend some others to sneak in before September!

How many novels have y’all read in one time period? I think this may be the most for me. How does it feel to read so much in such a short period of time? For me, it’s rather soothing and calming. It makes me think, too, about things other than me and my immediate surroundings.