I enjoyed reading this historical fiction that tells the story of Iris James, a female postmaster in the fictional Cape Cod town of Franklin during the onset of World War II. Despite the title, the real story is about Frankie Bard, a female broadcaster based in London whose radio broadcasts of the nightly German bombings in London are heard throughout America. Frankie’s desire to show the true spirit of European Jews fleeing Europe connects her with many people and eventually draws her into the lesser drama that takes place in Franklin, Massachusetts.
I think parts of the book are well-written with an original point of view. The middle part of the book is the strongest, as Frankie meets and interviews many Jewish refugees. There are other sections that seem awkward and I’m left wondering what purpose they serve in the storyline. In addition, certain characters, such as Otto and Harry Vale are quite interesting, but Blake chooses to limit their development. The relationship between Will and Emma Trask is touching and I wish she had told us more about them.
There are other parts that are frustrating, such as the endless cigarette lighting and smoking and exhaling every time two characters speak. The characters carry their Lucky Strikes and lighters with them at all times and we are reminded time and again where they keep their smokes. Also, the opening chapter is just plain bizarre – I won’t give it away – tell me what you think!
All in all, a fairly fast read, with some touching moments.
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