The Postmistress

by: Sarah Blake


History comes to life in The Postmistress, a novel that takes readers back to the early 1940s, when the war raging in Europe showed no end in sight and America was on the brink of joining the fray. Through the eyes of three very different women, author Sarah Blake traces America’s journey from willful ignorance of the fight overseas to eventual understanding.

Emma is a young newlywed in Franklin, Massachusetts, searching for security and the sense of family she has always been missing. For her, the war becomes all too real when a local tragedy prompts her husband, the town doctor, to go abroad in order to provide medical aid to the wounded and the dying. Each day she listens to dispatches on the radio from Frankie—a young reporter in Britain, desperate to give her fellow Americans a sense of the tragedy and horror that she witnesses daily—and brings a letter for her husband to Iris, the local postmistress. Ironically, it is the ravages of war, rending countries and families apart, that ultimately join Frankie’s story with those of Emma and Iris, each woman sharing a part of the others’ sorrows and losses, and each lessening the burden of the horrible truths they all carry.

 It is with graceful tenderness that Blake provides readers with this heartbreaking examination of the devastation of war. Her tenure as a poet serves her well, with each sentence painstakingly crafted, her prose packing an impressive emotional punch that belies its unassuming and gentle tone. Much as the spirited Frankie seeks to do throughout the novel, Blake manages to give a face to a war in which so many were lost, all the while seeking to restore order and sense to a world mired by devastation and sorrow that defy easy explanation. More than just a novel about love and loss, The Postmistress is an expansive epic about the stories we tell and the secrets we guard—all as we search for the truth, sometimes blindly, sometimes bravely. This is a thoughtful novel, quiet in its catharsis, and best read with a box of tissues on hand. 

-       Review by Stephenie Harrison from

 My latest read was The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  Again I was drawn to the book by the gorgeous cover.  Who could resist a beautiful tea rose and ruffled pages to boot?  I confess, I am wooed by the pretties.

I really like historical novels.  This one took a bit to get into, but about halfway into the book the story really picked up.  For me, the most fully developed character in the book was Frankie.  She was the American reporter stationed in Europe during the early part of WWII.  When the war became intimately personal for her, through her recorded interviews with Jewish refugees, her character really blossomed. 

This book has been compared to another one that is current popular literature.  I’m not even going to mention the name of the other book, because I think the two books are so dissimilar you will be disappointed by this story if you compare it to the other one.  If you just take this story on its own, I think you will like it.  If you hold The Postmistress  up to the comparison of the other popular story you may not like it as much as you would otherwise.

I don’t want to give the whole story away for you.  This book is both sweet and poignant.  It is a character study of three very different women viewed through the lens of historical perspective, brought together by extreme circumstances.  You should give it try.