Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce
Dear Avid Reader,
I understand your concern that sometime it is hard to choose the right book to read, that it can be overwhelming and at times, hard to know just what you might be in the mood for but, rest assured, you have come to the right place for advice. I can Absolutely Recommend a book that will keep you smiling from the first to the last page with a story that is Uplifting, Humorous and Heartwarming.
You say that you are looking for a good plot and believable characters, well let me tell you, Dear Mrs Bird has just that. Meet the endearing and enthusiastic Emmeline, a young girl looking for adventure, excitement and full of aspirations to become an intrepid reporter. She's carried a notebook around with her all her life, 'ready to sniff out Political Intrigue, launch Difficult Questions at Governmental Representatives, or best of all, leap onto the last plane to a far-off country in order to send back Vital Reports of resistance and war.' So imagine her delight to land herself a job at the offices of the local newspaper!
But, as you know, a good story needs more complications, obstacles and moments of crisis to make it enjoyable so, imagine Emmeline's disappointment when instead of Intrepid Reporter, she finds herself in the role as junior typist for Women's Friend, typing up replies to the agony aunt letters. Her morale slips into terminal decline.
'Britain was twenty one miles away from a Europe in tatters and Women's Friend gave its few remaining readers advice about fat arms.'
However, you'll be pleased to hear, especially as you requested a story with an engaging character, that Emmeline is not to be put off. She's spent most of her life being told to 'simmer down' and curb her 'excitable aspirations' and she's not going to change now. The formidable Mrs Bird has presented her with an extensive list of the types of problems she will not respond to - namely anything with a hint of Unpleasantness, which seems to just about cover anything except from cookery or household cleaning concerns - and Emmeline cannot stop herself from wanting to help these other women whose letters are cast into the bin; women who are facing new anxieties, fears or situations as wartime Britain finds itself in a time of vulnerability and challenge. What harm would it do to reply to one of these letters? Surely after all it is her job to answer these requests? And will the unapproachable, cold Mrs Bird even notice seeing as she appears not to even read the final edition of Women's Friend as she is so often out and about doing Good Works?
Well, dear avid reader, I'm sure you can imagine what fun and games might follow.
You did not state whether historical fiction was a genre you enjoyed or not, but Pearce's writing is so fluent that you will be swept along with Emmeline's voice, endeared by her youth, kindness and imagination as well as caught up in the universal issues like ambition, careers, friendship and love that everyone, whatever their era, whatever their age, can relate to. The historical detail it is so effortlessly established and the backdrop of the wartime creates a further layer of drama, emotion and urgency to Emmeline's choices, actions and personal life.
I can assure you that you will fall in love with Emmeline. Her narrative voice is so engaging and upbeat. Her outlook on life is admirable and her youthful attitude that may at times be misjudged, is always well meaning. I enjoyed this book because it was a Refreshing Change, an engaging read about the hopes and aspirations of a young woman finding her way in the world. It's about friendship, grief, love, coming of age, war but above all, The Power of Writing Letters.
So while you're out buying a copy of Dear Miss Bird, why not pick up a few stamps, writing paper and envelops and drop a note to an old friend? Maybe they can help next time you have a tricky question to ask or need another book recommendation?!
Dear Mrs Bird is published on 5th April.
My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of the book.