A.J. Pearce's debut novel - Dear Mrs. Bird.
I loved the cover - those typewriter keys, colours and fashion style set the stage for the story within.
1940 London, England. With the war raging, everyone must Buckle Down and Do Their Part. Emmy Lake volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. She dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent as well. When she sees an ad for a position with a newspaper, she leaps at the chance. She gets the job, but it ends up being a typist position for an advice column in a women's magazine - Dear. Mrs. Bird. "Finally I gave what I hoped was a plucky Everything Is Absolutely Tip Top Smile. I had taken entirely the wrong job." Mrs. Bird is quite strict about what should be published - there is an Unacceptable Topics list. But Emmy feels bad about those whose letters go unanswered. You know what's coming next, don't you? Yes, she begins to reply..... (And before you think I've made some mistakes with capitalization in this post - they are part of Emmy's inner dialogue and denote important information.)
Pearce has created an absolutely delightful character in Emmy. She's plucky, irrepressible and so darn likeable. The supporting cast including best friend Bunty, and the magazine staff are just as well drawn. Mrs. Bird is in a class of her own.
Pearce has captured the stalwart attitude of the Brits in the war years. "My mother steadfastly referred to the war as This Silly Business, which made it sound like a mild fracas over a marmalade sponge." Pearce's descriptions of a London being bombed nightly, the damage, the loss of life, the rescue workers and more paint the backdrop of this tale and underscore the reality of those war years.
Dear Mrs. Bird had me laughing out loud many, many times. As the book progressed, things did take a more serious turn. And I couldn't stop turning pages. I was so invested in Pearce's tale. I loved reading the letters, from the advice column as well as those Emmy writes to friends and family. Letter writing is such a lost art nowadays.
Pearce says 'the inspiration for Dear Mrs. Bird began when I came across a 1939 copy of a women's magazine. It was a wonderful find - a glimpse into an era and world where I could read about everything from recipes for lamb's brain stew to how to knit your own swimwear.""Many of the readers' letters in Dear Mrs. Bird were inspired by the letters and advice, articles and features printed in those wartime magazine. I found them thought-provoking, moving and inspirational, and my admiration for the women of that time never stops growing....It is a privilege to look into their world and remember what incredible women and girls they all were."
I absolutely adored Dear Mrs. Bird and I know you will too - definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of Dear Mrs. Bird. You can connect with A.J. Pearce on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.