Novel by Sarah Blake
Review by Charlotte Gaubert, Lafourche Parish Public Library Area Librarian
This is a novel of three women whose lives become entwined through time, place, and shared experiences.
1940. The beginning of World War II. London. The Blitz. Nightly bombings.
Frankie Bard is a radio gal who reports nightly news events from London to the American homefront audience. She and fellow American, Edward R. Murrow, report about the devastation and death toll of London. In the early days of communication, daily news was transmitted through the radio. Most American homes had a radio which became their lifeline to these news events.
Iris James, postmaster of the small town of Franklin, Mass. located on Cape Cod, listens to Frankie’s nightly broadcasts and believes the war will reach the American shore very soon. Iris, new to the area, hasn’t made many friends but knows everyone in the town through her job.
Emma Fitch, also new to Franklin, has moved there because of her marriage to Dr. Will Fitch. Emma and Will, like many citizens of Franklin and elsewhere, listen to Frankie Bard’s nightly broadcasts and become drawn to helping the war effort. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Will decides to help out by volunteering his services in London for six months. Will leaves behind his pregnant wife and a letter he writes to her that should be delivered in the event of his death. This letter is entrusted to Postmaster Iris James.
One night during a bombing in London, Will Fitch and Frankie Bard end up in the same bomb shelter. Both Americans, they have a long conversation about the war, the homefront, and Frankie’s broadcasts. In the morning as they leave the bomb shelter and go on their way, Will steps into the path of an oncoming vehicle and is killed. Frankie rushes to his side and as she leaves is given a letter addressed to his wife, “Emma Fitch of Franklin, Massachusetts”.
Through her travels into France, Austria, Germany, and Spain, Frankie follows the paths of Jewish citizens leaving their homes.
Traveling on trains as they head to safety, Frankie records their names and their stories. Through all of her travels, Will Fitch’s letter remains with her. Upon her arrival in London, an exhausted and shocked Frankie leaves England for home and a much needed vacation.
Frankie decides to recuperate on Cape Cod with the intention of delivering Will’s letter to Emma. When she arrives in Franklin, she immerses herself into the community. But, as she meets Emma and begins to know her, she decides that she can’t be the one to deliver the news of Will’s death.
This wonderfully written novel will have you wanting to know more about the lives of Frankie, Iris, and Emma. Sarah Blake does a fantastic job at giving her readers just the right amount of historical facts and fiction. A very good read!