Do you ever wonder what you read that made you pick up the book you are reading? Yes, sometimes it is because you have read other books by that author (my penchant for series…) but then there are other times that you wonder what in a description told you that you needed to read this book. Since I haven’t wandered the library shelves or been in a bookstore lately, I have no idea where I heard about this week’s book. I do receive email updates from Boswell Books in Milwaukee. I am sure that is where I heard of Dear Mrs. Bird.
In 1940 London, Emmeline Lake (Emmy) longs to be a Lady War Correspondent. As the book opens, she is working in a law office and volunteers at night with the Auxiliary Fire Service. But then she sees the job description of a lifetime or so she thinks. She applies, gets an interview and then gets the job. She is in seventh heaven. Only, she didn’t really listen or ask any questions at the interview. When she gets to her first day on the job, she learns that she is not working for war correspondents but she is working for the formidable Mrs. Henrietta Bird at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs. Bird is famous for her advice column. Emmy’s job is to read the letters that come to Mrs. Bird and give Mrs. Bird only the “acceptable” letters. The letters that are ‘unpleasant” are to be shredded. The term “unpleasant” encompasses most of the letters that are received by the office. It seems that because of Mrs. Bird’s refusal to respond to most of the letters and her harsh responses, there are not as many letters coming to the office. Emmy’s heart is pulled by the letters and she secretly starts responding to some of the writers. When she tells her best friend, Bunty, what she has been doing, Bunty tells her to stop immediately. But she doesn’t listen and there are repercussions.
The book has the backdrop of London during World War II with nightly bombing raids and tensions due to the war. Hearts are broken and friendships tested. Despite it all, Emmy keeps showing the resilience of the human spirit.
Despite the backdrop of war, this is not a heavy book. Emmy is a young woman who lets her enthusiasm overrun her common sense. She makes frequent errors but she keeps trying. While the book covers some of the heartbreak of war and its toll on people, it is done with a light touch.
I found the book enjoyable.
Thanks for reading.