When I think of historical fiction set during the Second World War, I anticipate a generally serious tone throughout the entire book. I do not expect to be reading something that can make me laugh, cry, and change my perspective in a single chapter. In her debut novel however, A. J. Pearce has presented the reader with the roller coaster of life that was real to so many people living in 1940 London. The characters in Dear Mrs. Bird are complex and human – their lives have adapted to the nightly air raids and rapid lifestyle changes.
Emmy Lake dreams of being a War Correspondent with a national publication. She is so enthusiastic going into her job interview that she misses the part where she’s told the job is as a typist for an advice column in a women’s magazine. Soon she finds herself connecting with the struggles of the women writing in for help and rebels against the antiquated ideals of her boss. Emmy begins to secretly (and then not so secretly) reply to letters that have been deemed Unsuitable. After all, these women have real problems and could use some objective and empathetic support. That is when things get really complicated.
Dear Mrs. Bird is recommended for a fantastic summer read, an excellent choice for book clubs, and to anyone who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or Lilac Girls.