Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce is a World War II novel that revolves around letters. The main character, Emmaline “Emmy” Lake spends a great deal of time reading and writing letters. These letters show the mindset of so many affected by the strain of living during a war. Emmy wants her letters to be friendly and positive, but occasionally she must tell her true feelings. The novel also focuses on the spirit of the English people during the war. There are many ordinary people who rise up to do extraordinary things.
Henrietta Bird is the editor of Woman’s Friend magazine and is in charge of answering questions sent in by readers for the problems column. Unfortunately, she is as charming as an ogre when it comes to answering any “unpleasantness”. While Mrs. Bird’s moral high ground was popular during World War I, it hasn’t kept up with the times of World War II London. When Emmy mistakenly steps into the job as the assistant to Mrs. Bird, she is overwhelmed by some women’s desperate pleas. Instead of following the instructions to tear up the unsuitable letters and throw them in the bin, Emmy decides to write back to some of those who included return envelopes. She feels compelled to be a friend to those facing challenges. Since Mrs. Bird doesn’t actually read the magazine, Emmy gets brave and inserts a couple of the letters into the column.
Emmy lives in London with her best friend Bunty. Bunty is appalled when Emmy mentions writing the responses and tells Emmy to stop. Later, when the Cafe de Paris is bombed on March 8, 1941, Bunty and Emmy have a major falling out over Emmy’s treatment of Bunty’s fiance. Emmy doesn’t want to give up on the friendship and writes letters to Bunty every day. When Emmy’s letter writing to the magazine subscribers is discovered, she gets help in an unexpected manner that helps save her job.
4-Stars. Book club recommended. Dear Mrs. Bird (The Emmy Lake Chronicles #1) was published on July 3, 2018. I read the Kindle version which is a quick read at 288 pages. My next book review will be Yours Cheerfully (The Emmy Lake Chronicles #2).
Back when I lived in another century and received daily newspaper delivery, I would read Dear Abby and Ann Landers’ columns. They were such a part of the American cultural landscape for decades. Unlike Mrs. Bird, these two sisters were not afraid to take on any type of question. One of my favorite responses was:
Dear Abby: My boyfriend is going to be 20 years old next month. I’d like to give him something nice for his birthday. What do you think he’d like? —Carol
Dear Carol: Nevermind what he’d like, give him a tie.