London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.
“Let us never underestimate the power of a well written letter.” – The Jane Austen Book Club
Dear Mrs. Bird reads like a well-written love letter to one of the greatest generations of women to ever live. AJ Pearce’s debut novel is funny, charming, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming all at the same time. Based on the book’s blurb, I was expecting a light-hearted read. But war is anything but light-hearted. Told with equal parts humor and emotion, AJ Pearce gives us a unique perspective into the London Blitz.
Perfectly capturing the tone and style of 1940’s British language, AJ Pearce seamlessly transports us to wartime London as well as keeping the overall tone of Dear Mrs. Bird charming and light. The 1940’s tone of the book also celebrates the tremendous British blitz spirit, “There was something about planning a wedding that felt like one in the eye for Hitler. He could send over as many Luftwaffe planes as he liked, but he couldn’t stop people being in love and everyone getting excited.”
Through Emmy’s experiences as a volunteer telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services and the letters she receives at Woman’s Friend magazine, we get a peek into the daily lives and the sheer bravery of those women on the Home Front, who faced the bombings, social and personal upheavals, and food shortages with the fortitude to go about their daily lives. AJ Pearce’s descriptions of blitzed and war torn London were absolutely vivid, heart-breaking, and full of emotion. What makes Emmy’s perspective that much more emotional is that it is very much based on reality. From the Author’s Note:
“Many of the readers’ letters in Dear Mrs. Bird were inspired by the letters and advice, articles and features printed in those wartime magazines. I found them thought-provoking, moving, and inspirational, and my admiration for the women of that time never stops growing. Our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and friends, some of whom I hope may even read and enjoy Emmy and Bunty’s story. It is a privilege to look into their world and remember what incredible women and girls they all were.”
I adored this novel and so will you. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will immediately want to share this story with the women in your life.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book. (All opinions are my own)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Title: Dear Mrs. Bird
Publisher: Picador Books(Pan MacMillan) (April 5, 2018) for the U.K. and Scribner (July 3, 2018) for the U.S.
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humor & Satire, Coming of Age, Fiction, Romance
Read… Devoured… in a matter of days, while… longing for a strong cup of black tea and a biscuit.