I have the delightfully spiffing “Dear Mrs Bird” by AJ Pearce to share with you today. Published by Pan Macmillan and available in various formats from 5th April 2018 you can purchase a copy from Amazon UK.
London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . . Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.
Emmy soon realises that the job she has just accepted is not quite what she thought it would be. Rather than becoming part of a journalistic team investigating and helping reporters, she is a junior for a problem page at Woman’s Friend magazine. She is responsible for sifting through the letters looking for help and advice, sounds great but in actual fact there are certain things that Mrs Henrietta Bird will not have on her column. I say certain things but it turns out that most things will not appear in her column.
This is such a great read, set in London during the blitz. It has all the elements you would expect rationing, shortages of everyday items, sadness of loved ones away from home, despair when they do not return. The letters that are written to the magazine give a more personal feel to those women who are left at home possibly for the first time. This is a great way of giving a sense of time and place, it has a real feel of the time with references to clothing, films, music and obviously the war.
A lighter side is added to this with the antics of Emmy and how she decides to take things into her own hands. It has an almost chick lit feel to it and I thought it balanced the harrowing experiences people experienced as the war raged around them. It does have a great deal of emotion in it as you read the letters that have been sent in and also as you follow the characters through the story.
This is a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Once I started it I could not put it down. This is a book that I think would appeal to readers of lighter historical WWII fiction and definitely from a female perspective and thought it was a well-balanced book. This is a book that I would highly recommend. I also think this would be a great Book Club read, there are many things that would make some great discussion points.
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