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Extended Audio Sample The Postmistress Audiobook, by Sarah Blake Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (21,849 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sarah Blake Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9781101154618
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Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible weight.

It is 1940. France has fallen. Bombs are dropping on London. And President Roosevelt is promising he won’t send our boys to fight in “foreign wars.”

But American radio gal Frankie Bard, the first woman to report from the Blitz in London, wants nothing more than to bring the war home. Frankie’s radio dispatches crackle across the Atlantic ocean, imploring listeners to pay attention—as the Nazis bomb London nightly, and Jewish refugees stream across Europe. Frankie is convinced that if she can just get the right story, it will wake Americans to action and they will join the fight.

Meanwhile, in Franklin, Massachusetts, a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James hears Frankie’s broadcasts and knows that it is only a matter of time before the war arrives on Franklin’s shores. In charge of the town’s mail, Iris believes that her job is to deliver and keep people’s secrets, passing along the news that letters carry. And one secret she keeps are her feelings for Harry Vale, the town mechanic, who inspects the ocean daily, searching in vain for German U-boats he is certain will come. Two single people in midlife, Iris and Harry long ago gave up hope of ever being in love, yet they find themselves unexpectedly drawn toward each other.

Listening to Frankie as well are Will and Emma Fitch, the town’s doctor and his new wife, both trying to escape a fragile childhood and forge a brighter future. When Will follow’s Frankie’s siren call into the war, Emma’s worst fears are realized. Promising to return in six months, Will goes to London to offer his help, and the lives of the three women entwine.

Alternating between an America still cocooned in its inability to grasp the danger at hand and a Europe being torn apart by war, The Postmistress gives us two women who find themselves unable to deliver the news and a third woman desperately waiting for news yet afraid to hear it.
Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress shows how we bear the fact that war goes on around us while ordinary lives continue. Filled with stunning parallels to today, it is a remarkable novel.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Postmistress is the fictional communique readers have waited for. Sarah Blake has brought small-town American life and ravaged Europe during WWII to us with cinematic immediacy. The romantic, harrowing -- and utterly inimitable-- story of radio journalist Frankie Bard (appalled yet intoxicated by tragedy as no character I've ever read before) contains the uncompromised sensibility found in the writings of Martha Gellhorn. The Postmistress belongs in what Gellhorn called "the permanent and necessary" library. Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and Devotion
  • Great books give you a feeling that you miss all day until you finally get to crawl back inside those pages again. The Postmistress is one of those rare books. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Sarah Blake seamlessly moves from inside one character to another, in a novel that reminds us of a time when the news travelled from post to paper to radio and that is how we learned about the world. The Postmistress made me homesick for a time before I was even born. What's remarkable, however, is how relevant the story is to our present-day times. A beautifully written, thought provoking novel that I'm telling everyone I know to read. Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help
  • “Quietly effective work from first novelist Blake.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Even readers who don’t think they like historical novels will love this one and talk it up to their friends.”

    Library Journal

  • “There’s both exquisite pain and pleasure to be found in these pages, which jump from the mass devastation in Europe to the intimate heartaches of an American small town. As a war rages, and the baby in Emma’s belly grows, Frankie and Iris must answer an impossible question: When and how, if at all, should life-altering news be delivered?”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “A splendid novel about the power of words to change people and the world…Its spark comes from its enduring message about the need for humanity to step up and fight anyone and anything that threatens our fragile moral code…In 2010, The Postmistress may stand alone, as did Kathryn Stockett’s The Help in 2009, as a refreshingly honest novel about how a handful of people can help change the world.”

    USA Today

  • “Blake captures two different worlds—a naïve nation in denial and, across the ocean, a continent wracked with terror—with a deft sense of character and plot, and a perfect willingness to take on big, complex questions, such as the merits of truth and truth-telling in wartime.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A book that hits hard and pushes buttons expertly…The real strength of The Postmistress lies in its ability to strip away readers’ defenses against stories of wartime uncertainty and infuse that chaos with wrenching immediacy and terror. Ms. Blake writes powerfully about the fragility of life and about Frankie’s efforts to explain how a person can be present in one instant and then in the next, gone forever.”

    New York Times

  • Some novels we savor for their lapidary prose, others for their flesh and blood characters, and still others for a sweeping narrative arc that leaves us light- headed and changed; Sarah Blake's masterful, The Postmistress, serves us all this and more. Compassionate, insightful, and unsentimental, this masterful novel is told in a rare and highly successful omniscient voice, one that delves deeply into the seemingly random nature of love and war and story itself. This is a superb book! Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
  • To open Blake's novel of World War II and the convergence of three strong women is to enter a slipstream, so powerful are its velocity, characters, and drama. How can you resist Frankie Bard, an American journalist of gumption and vision who is bravely reporting on the Blitz from London? Her distinctive voice and audacious candor are heard on radios everywhere on the home front, including Cape Cod, where Iris James, in love for the first time at 40, keeps things shipshape at a small-town post office. The third in Blake's triumvirate of impressive women, Emma, the waiflike wife of the town's doctor, is not as obvious a candidate for heroism until a tragedy induces her husband to join the war effort. As Frankie risks her life to record the stories of imperiled Jews, Iris and Emma struggle to maintain order as America goes reluctantly to war. Blake raises unsettling questions about the randomness of violence and death, and the simultaneity of experience--how can people frolic on a beach while others are being murdered? Matching harrowing action with reflection, romance with pathos, Blake's emotional saga of conscience and genocide is poised to become a best-seller of the highest echelon. Donna Seaman, ALA Booklist, Starred review
  • Even readers who don't think they like historical novels will love this one and talk it up to their friends. Highly recommended for all fans of beautifully wrought fiction. Library Journal, Starred Review
  • An unforgettable, insightful, and compelling novel The Postmistress engages the reader's instincts at the deep level of fight or flight. For WWII radio reporter Frankie Bard, however, the gut response to horror is see and tell. Sarah Blake's prose perfectly recreates the cadences of passion and of the inner life while also conjuring up the wrenching, nightmare suspense of history in the making. Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette
  • Selected for the February 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2011 Audie Award Finalist
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dana | 2/19/2014

    " Interesting, a good flow between 3 women at once. Definite shortfall in that she changed historical facts and an even bigger one in that the basic question was "what is the meaning of life" and none of the characters ever found out. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ingrid Morris | 2/10/2014

    " The Postmistress: WWII is such a powerful backdrop. The story survives because of the life given it by history. Otherwise it is limp. I cared for the three female charaters at the middle of the story, but nothing good happened with them. They, to borrow a era appropriate phrase that has become recently rediscovered, simply "Stay calm and Carry On." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Geourska | 1/25/2014

    " This book is probably what I would describe as beach reading. It had a decent plot, but I found it hard to become truly involved with any of the characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mindysue | 1/24/2014

    " Didn't finish, didn't care for it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 1/21/2014

    " I sat very still for some time after finishing it, reluctant to allow it to release it's grip. Superbly written, haunting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shannon | 1/13/2014

    " This book could have been really good. I loved the writing, but the characters were not very engaging and the plot just seemed to drag on and on. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 1/12/2014

    " Wow, this one took me a long time to get into. But I like the era (WWII) and the writing got better as the book progressed. One of those stories that really takes you into history, perhaps from a different perspective than you previously considered. Not a must-read, but not a bad one either. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 1/10/2014

    " I started out giving this one a 3 star rating but as you can see by the end it was a five. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Windy | 10/5/2013

    " Story of people on both sides of the Atlantic during WW2. Very moving vignettes of the Jews in Europe as they try to escape danger and equally moving stories of everyday life in the US affected by a war so far away. I really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betsy | 9/20/2013

    " This was an enjoyable enough story, but not great writing, and certain elements were downright annoying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Cribbs | 9/1/2013

    " My friend Janet gave me this book a year ago and when I started reading it, I could not put it down. Really good book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marie Conrad | 6/10/2013

    " One of those great books set in WWII England that I love. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer Singleterry | 5/6/2013

    " This book was interesting and had a good idea behind it...but she was DEFINITELY trying too hard with the writing. Was ridiculous in parts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 JoDee | 3/11/2013

    " A story of three women whose lives are brought together in the years before USA entered into WWII. Sad, but wonderfully evocative in describing Germany in the early years of the war "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Regina | 2/24/2013

    " An interesting take on WW2 with a journalist and a postmaster leading the story lines. It was an easy read, predictable at times, and she uses too much description at times. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynn G. | 1/28/2013

    " Expected so much more. The characters were not particularly engaging or fully fleshed out nor were their backstories. They were nearly uni-dimensional. The most interesting part of the book dealt with the Blitz and Frankie Ward's trip through Occupied France and Germany. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SaraJane | 10/26/2012

    " People can't imagine what they don't understand. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Champaign Public Library | 8/15/2012

    " I thought this was a good book though unbelievable. It a World War II story before the US gets involved told from the perspective of a small town New England postmistress, a young doctor's new bride and a female American radio journalist in London. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janelle | 7/20/2012

    " I chose the book because I thought the storyline was a good one. Unfortunately, I found the writing disjointed and confusing. The story seemed to drag, except in the chapters where Frankie goes to Germany and occupied France. It took me forever to finish it; I just wasn't that into it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie | 2/3/2012

    " This book was enjoyable enough mostly for the disjoint between the terrible inhumanity going on in Europe while Americans were oblivious. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori Roberts | 9/26/2011

    " Meanders through the lives of characters not fleshed out enough to make you feel any connection. The end made me feel like it was kind of a quick wrap-up because the author was no longer interested in the story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather | 5/24/2011

    " Kind of slow. I didn't care about any of the characters. Meh. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandy | 5/24/2011

    " I wanted to love this story but I felt a little cheated at the end. I'm glad I read her novel because Blake is a talented writer and I appreciated her development of thought-provoking questions. Maybe she wanted me - the reader - to fill in the holes she created. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bethgentner | 5/23/2011

    " Cute premise, but did not feel like it had much depth.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 RF | 5/23/2011

    " a favorite novel of 2011 thus far "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doris | 5/22/2011

    " WW II, consequences of decisions made to protect another person from grief. Right or wrong? Such a good book, well-written, carries the reader along with compassion, involvement. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandy | 5/22/2011

    " How this was on the best seller list, I will never know! The concept of the plot itself was good. However, the writing did not live up to the story line. Hard to track characters' motivations. Dialogue was underdeveloped. Not sure why characters did what they did. Skip this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 5/21/2011

    " It took me awhile to care about the characters, but exactly half-way through the book it all "clicked" and I enjoyed the rest of the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/21/2011

    " A simple tale with more than meets the eye of the reader. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ss | 5/20/2011

    " The book started slow and got better. Character development was good. It was spotty in terms of historical accuracy: some parts seemed spot-on, some were wildly "creative". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 5/19/2011

    " A very interesting, gut-wrenching, different view of early WWII and the people caught in it. Perhaps a little heavy on the introspection, but it's worth reading and thinking on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Georgene | 5/17/2011

    " I listened to the audio version of this book. Some of the characters seemed a bit modern in their thoughts and actions. I had a hard time understanding Dr. Will Fitch, but I liked Frankie Bard. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ross | 5/17/2011

    " Beautiful prose, but the plot left something to be desired. I just didn't buy into the main premise. "

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About the Author
Author Sarah Blake

Sarah Blake lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, the poet Josh Weiner, and their two sons.

About the Narrator

Orlagh Cassidy is an audiobook narrator who has twice won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration, as well as nineteen AudioFile Earphones Awards. She is a graduate of SUNY at Purchase and a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Scholarship. She has been seen on and off Broadway and in films, including Definitely Maybe and Calling It Quits. Her television credits include roles in Law & Order and Sex and the City and as Doris Wolfe on Guiding Light. She has done voice work for commercials in which she is probably best known for her role as the mom in the “BFF Jill” spots for AT&T.