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About the Book:
An ocean apart, two women—Frankie Bard, a gifted, intrepid, and beautiful young radio journalist in London to report on the Blitz, and Iris James, the dedicated, spinster postmistress of Franklin, Massachusetts—are entrusted with letters that concern the same man, to be delivered to his newlywed wife. Yet each woman decides not to do so, betraying her solemn commitment to deliver the news, whether by radio broadcast under Nazi bombardment or through the meticulous handling of the mail. The man in question is Will Fitch, a young doctor from Franklin who is moved by Frankie’s dispatches to go to London to treat the victims of the Blitz. Each day, his wife, Emma, enters the orderly realm of the local post office, presided over by Iris, to collect a new letter from Will.
Most of Franklin’s townsfolk—just like the glittering New York society from which Frankie hails—believe that the war in Europe will never touch them. A rare exception is Franklin’s Harry Vale, a mechanic with whom Iris has unexpectedly found a touching, midlife love. For hours each day, from a tower in the town hall, Harry trains his binoculars on the Atlantic, watching for the German submarines that he is certain will wreak destruction on America.
Alerted by her deceased colleague and dear friend to the horrific plight of Europe’s Jews, Frankie asks her boss, the legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, for permission to tell their story. Carrying the first portable voice recorder, Frankie captures their agonizing accounts as she rides the last refugee trains out of Germany in the summer of 1941, and witnesses the systematic brutality with which they are abused and killed by the Nazis. Finding it impossible to convey the full horror of their situation to an America that does not seem to want to listen, Frankie resigns and heads back to the States…with the young doctor’s letter in her pocket. His daily letters to Emma have stopped arriving long ago, and Frankie travels to Franklin to look behind the story of a man and his wife that had long remained in her mind. In ways both expected and unexpected, the war comes home to Franklin.
An utterly enveloping tale of a world conveyed in a voice, and of secrets kept and shared, THE POSTMISTRESS is a challenging meditation on the individual’s responsibility to history, to her country and community, and to herself.
Sarah Blake’s THE POSTMISTRESS was a New York Times hardcover bestseller in the United States and has been sold to publishers in 13 other countries. The novel also won South Africa’s 2010 Boeke “Readers’ Choice Prize,” which is modeled after the UK’s Man Booker Prize and sponsored by Exclusive Books, South Africa’s largest retail book chain.
Born in New York City, Sarah Blake has a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from New York University. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Full Turn (Pennywhistle Press, 1989), an artist book, Runaway Girls (Hand Made Press, 1997) in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn, and two novels. Her first novel, Grange House, (Picador, 2000) was named a “New and Noteworthy” paperback in August, 2001 by The New York Times. Blake’s essays and reviews have appeared in Good Housekeeping, US News and World Reports, The Chicago Tribune and elsewhere.
Sarah lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons. For more information on Sarah, visit her website at sarahblakebooks.com