‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ by A. J. Pearce – Advice to Londoners During The Blitz

‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ by A. J. Pearce (2018) – 276 pages

‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ tells the moving story of young 23 year-old Emmeline Lake (‘Emmy’) during the time of The Blitz in London in 1940. The Blitz was Germany and Hitler’s all-out air bombing campaign against England. The German bombing campaign started out to be the bombing of only strategic targets but the bomb dropping was inaccurate, and civilian areas accidentally were bombed. By 1940 the deranged madman Hitler had decided that the terror bombing of London civilians might be useful for his goal of getting England to surrender.

Emmy has two jobs. During the day she works as an assistant to Mrs. Bird who writes a women’s advice column for the Woman’s Friend Magazine. At night she works at the fire station taking calls for the Fire Brigade which must deal with the on-ground devastation of Germany’s bombs.

There are obviously times when ‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ is necessarily heartbreaking but with all the death and destruction around them, living well is even more precious for these young people like Emmy and her friend Bunty. We have the camaraderie, the dances, the boyfriends, the weddings. ‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ is a surprisingly high-spirited read.

The advice columnist Emmy works for during the day, Mrs. Bird, is definitely old school. She will allow nothing concerning “intimate relations” or any other “unpleasantness” in her column. Emmy is supposed to cut up and throw away any letters that contain any mention of these things. As Emmy reads these plaintive letters about the real problems these women are facing in their personal lives, she decides to write to these women herself giving advice, and she signs them “Mrs. Bird”.

I could see people were ever so frank when they wrote in, which I thought really quite brave. Some of them sounded in a real fix. … Things were difficult for everyone at the moment, and I did think it was poor of Mrs. Bird not to write back.”

Since Mrs. Bird doesn’t read the finished magazine, Emmy sneaks some of these letters and her replies into the magazine itself. Emmy also softens some of Mrs. Bird’s more brusque replies.

The papers and radio and even magazines like ours went on about pluck and bravery and spirit,” she says. “How often did anyone ever tell women they were doing a good job? That they didn’t have to be made of steel all the time? That it was all right to feel a bit down?”

I was fully on board with this novel, totally engaged. When I picked up the novel again after temporarily stopping reading it, I was again right away involved because this story really meant something to me. That is probably the best thing I can say about any novel.

‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ is an irresistible tremendously moving story, and I strongly recommend it.

 

Grade : A+

 

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5 responses to this post.

  1. This sounds great, on to the wishlist it goes:)

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  2. A+! I have this on my shelves already, but although I’ve heard glowing things, your score makes it a must-read rather than a when I have time.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Annabel,
      Since Winston Churchill is my all-time hero both as a leader and orator, I wanted to read this novel, not that he plays much of a role in it, but the English seem to have captured his spirit during the war.

      Like

      Reply

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