Thursday, 13 January 2011
The Postmistress, Sarah Blake
Although the book is called The Postmistress, the main character is undoubtedly Frankie, caught in the middle of the war, seeing what is happening in Europe and filled with the urgency to convey this to her countrymen, to stir them to do something, make a difference. Infuriated by what she sees as other people's indifference, she is desperate to make her mark, feeling that she is shouting into the wind but keeps going because "whatever is coming does not just come [..] it's helped by people wilfully looking away." Her nationality allows her into occupied France and Germany where she finds herself on trains of Jewish refugees, daring to report on what she found, what people didn't want to see. Frankie's determination, stubbornness and sometimes recklessness make her come to life as a character. Sometimes in conversation she comes across as ruthless or arrogant, but this is because she cares so much and is frustrated by perceived indifference from those who haven't been where she's been or seen what she's seen. But ultimately she realises that she can't make a neat little story of people's suffering, with a beginning and an end. She can tell what she's seen, but "the story just whispers off in the dark." It isn't until she arrives back in the USA that she discovers what an impact her reports make to those at home, that maybe she can help to make a difference after all.
Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans