By: AJ Pearce
Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent for a large newspaper as she battles to stay alive in 1940s Britain during the Blitz. With the Luftwaffe looming above and bombing London nearly every night, the women on the home front are expected to “do their part” for the war effort. By chance, Emmy sees an advertisement in a local paper stating they need a new Junior, and she races to write a letter to interview for the job believing she will be on the front lines reporting news of the war. However, the position turns out to be far less glamorous than it initially seemed, and Emmy struggles to find meaning in her new role as a typist for a women’s advice column while London crumbles around her.
I have never stated this on my blog before, but my favorite novel is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One day I will get around to writing a book review on it, but that day is not today. The reason I bring up this fact at all is that Dear Mrs. Bird was advertised as a story for fans of my favorite novel. Now how could I possibly turn down a story that markets itself in such a way? I couldn’t, which leads me to my next point…I was incredibly disappointed.
Dear Mrs. Bird tries, with great effort, to be funny, endearing, and emotional all at the same time but manages to be mediocre at two of the three frequently. Above all, I would categorize this book as “funny” since it does have good-natured humor, but I would also say it is quite over the top and hyperbolic at times where it didn’t really need to be. There are instances when the story is genuinely well written (usually during the bombing sequences), but the rest of the time it’s rather, meh.
In addition to endeavoring to be funny and endearing, the story also tries desperately to focus on Emmy’s career, her love life, and her friendship with Bunty while remaining coherent and plot strong. The author failed miserably here. The ending also cut off abruptly, in my opinion, leaving the career and romance issues unresolved but with just enough information that we assume we know what happened. I didn’t want the story to be a romance, and honestly, I didn’t really want it to be about her friendship with Bunty either. I was interested in the story because it was supposed to be about letters written to Emmy from women in London having issues during the war. I wanted to hear about the protagonist responding to women in her advice column and building a relationship with strangers through her words. Unfortunately, a lackluster amount of the story was actually dedicated to what the inside of the dust jacket talked about. *
The story was cute. I will give it that. I finished it in 3 days, so it was easy enough to move through. And there were parts of it that made me smile and chuckle a bit, so the novel wasn’t entirely lost. But from a plot perspective, this narrative is lacking. I will also admit that the suggested similarity to my favorite book made me criticize it a bit more harshly than I otherwise would, but that doesn’t cover up holes in the story either way.
The main aspect I found interesting was the emphasis on remaining positive and upbeat despite being bombed out every night by the Nazis. The government and the people were all dedicated to not letting Hitler win and demonstrated this determination by going on with their lives and finding happiness in the small, everyday things. That attitude was charming and I imagine the story accurately captures the zeitgeist of the early 1940s. So from a historical aspect, Dear Mrs. Bird gets points in my book.
Overall, I would state the book wasn’t so much boring as it was misleading and lacking in substance. I don’t really recommend it, but, hey, to each their own.
Overall rating: 3
*Note the synopsis I give in the beginning is not what is in the dust jacket, so I recommend you look up the blurb online to see what I’m talking about if you are interested.