Book: Dear Mrs Bird
Author: A.J. Pearce
Published: July 3, 2018
Genre: YA Science Fiction, Romance
A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.
London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy 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 seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, 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 letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times. (Goodreads)
First off, this cover! Love it. So. So. So Much. Also, did you know how much I love typewriters? I think they are super fun.
Anyway – back to the book. I’d heard good things about this book and when I saw it just sitting sadly on the counter next to the self-checkout at my library, I had to pick it up and take it home. And now, I probably need to go buy myself a copy.
Dear Mrs Bird is a WWII story about Emmy who accidentally gets a job at a women’s magazine. Her job is to read the letters that come in for the problems column (Dear Mrs Bird) and give the appropriate letters to Mrs Bird to respond to. Emmy is then to type up the response and submit it to the typesetting department to be included in the weekly magazine. Any unacceptable letters are to be cut up and tossed. Unfortunately, most of the unacceptable letters are people with real problems and Emmy wants to help.
Doing so gets her in some hot water.
Add in the nightly bombings of London and the fact that her best friend’s beau is a fireman and that Emmy’s own man is deployed and away fighting Nazi’s and you’ve got quite a bit of drama.
I don’t think I can put into words how much I enjoyed this book. It felt very real. It was inspired by a bunch of wartime women’s magazines that the author found and read through.
I love the idea of women helping other women, even when they don’t know them. I love the idea of helping even though it might land you trouble. And I love how Emmy challenges the status quo, challenges authority’s view on what is acceptable and what isn’t, and how she realizes that for a magazine to stay relevant to readers, it must give them what they want and need and not just what the publisher thinks should be provided.
All in, this book made me grin, laugh, whimper and sob. And then grin some more. My poor dog didn’t know what to think as I wiped my tears with my hands and then dried them on his back.