by Sarah Blake
Amy Einhorn Books, 2010
In Franklin, Massachusetts in 1940, Iris James is the postmaster in town, and takes pride in keeping order in her domain. Emma is the wife of the young town doctor, a woman who has already survived tragedy. They both hear the radio broadcasts of Frankie Bard, an American reporter covering the war live in London. This is a historical novel that's not about war, but about individuals and lives and stories that only get partly told.
The story and characters are compelling; the writing moves along quickly as you learn about each character and his or her struggles and want to know what happens to each of them. One thing I kept puzzling over was why this is called "The Postmistress" when it seemed to me to be just as much Emma's and Frankie's story as it was Iris's. I didn't like the hopeless point of view that some of the characters espouse, but couldn't imagine their experiences leaving them any other way.