Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake


I really wanted this book to be good. I loved the idea of the story: a few women, connected through the importance and fragile nature of the news during WWII. One a reporter in Europe, one a postmaster in a small town, and one a wife, waiting for her husband to come home from London. I was disappointed.

The characters were great. Unique, quirky and they fit well together. However, their motivations weren't as developed as I would have liked. Sometimes it felt like they were moved to act for the sake of the story line rather than their own personal reasons.

My biggest complaint was with the writing. I really hate to outright criticize a writer, because I know how hard writing can be, but I really didn't enjoy Blake's writing for two reasons. First, there were moments where I felt like the story suffered so that the story could be told in an artsy way. The reader was forced to jump from scene to scene and it really wasn't always clear what had happened, who was where or what time/date it was. It felt like Blake was trying to avoid a day to day routine, which I appreciated, but at times more detail was necessary to fill out the picture. I would even go so far as to say that it felt like the author had a series of scenes in mind for the book, but forgot or failed to tie them together in any meaningful way. At least that's how it felt to me as a reader.

Second, at times the writing got way too into detail. And not in a describe every leaf, stone or branch type of way. It felt like the author was trying too hard to be poetic in her descriptions. I know it's important to make your writing interesting and come alive, but this book took things too far. In fact, I think the writing got in the way of the story at times. Blake got so caught up in explaining how one character felt in the presence of another that I forgot why they were even in the same room.

Oh and I nearly forgot, I didn't like the ending. It was abrupt and stilted and didn't really fit. I think the author was trying to tie together the first few pages and the last few, but failed. The reference to the first few pages was not nearly clear enough and I only was able to guess that this was what was intended. 

Ultimately, this book was a quick read and I did enjoy it, but not nearly enough to recommend to others. Although an interesting and novel idea, the story didn't feel well thought out and didn't flow in a pleasant way for the reader.

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