To take a break from all the horror, murder and suspense I have been reading lately, I decided to take a gamble on Dear Mrs Bird. While this may have looked like the kind of book I would usually overlook, a lot of publishing professionals who I look up to had given it rave reviews, so I decided to try it out.
The plot of this novel is that Emmeline Lake, in amidst the war gets a job typing up letters and responses on the advice page for an out-of-date women’s magazine. The woman providing the responses is Mrs Bird, who’s list of unacceptable topics and words in a letter that she will reply to, which makes Emmy’s job quite frustrating at times, so she starts responding to letters herself. Pearce explores themes of friendship, family and innocence through the hard-hitting experience of the war. It is often humorous and the characters very relatable, while breaking your heart in places.
My only complaint about this book is that there isn’t more of it. I want to know what’s going to happen next! I relate so well to the main character, Emmy, as she is trying to make the most of an unfulfilling job that she thought would be her ticket to her dream career. I seriously admire her commitment to her own life and pursuing her goals. She cares greatly for her friends throughout the book and stands by them, even when pushed aside. I relate to her fiercely protective nature and her ruthless pursuit of her dreams.
I thought the writing was brilliant; I enjoyed the author’s knowledge of the war, and the fact that the story is in London, in the middle of the war. This meant that, while the main focus was on Emmy’s story, there were regular reminders of what was happening and how it was affecting them as well. I enjoyed the consideration that people’s lives still went on during the war until they couldn’t anymore.
The male characters in the novel were given the “smaller parts”, which I liked. Even during the war, when men were always the focus, women still existed, and I enjoyed how Pearce gave them a voice front and centre. The subversion of these roles reminded me just how little emphasis was put on women’s voices at the time, and made me proud of Emmy and the way she stood up for herself and her actions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and would recommend to regular readers of women’s fiction, and anyone who needs a break from anything too dark and disturbing. I was provided with an ARC from NetGalley and Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.