Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

This book sounded promising from the description, but I really couldn't get into it.  I think the main problem was I didn't like the protagonist - she seemed naive, reckless or maybe just plain stupid.

Set in London in 1940, Emmy Lake is working as a receptionist and volunteering as a a telephone operator for the Auxiliary Fire Service to do her bit for the war.  However, she dreams of being a war correspondent like the women who reported on the Spanish Civil War.  So when she sees an ad for a job with the London Evening Chronicle she jumps at the opportunity without fully investigating the nature of the work.  Rather that reporting, she is hired as a typist for a flailing women's magazine's elderly advice columnist.

Though she tries, Emmy becomes frustrated in the job almost immediately because Mrs. Bird refuses to respond to any letters containing "Unpleasantness", which she has defined rather broadly.  When Emmy is unable to convince her to reconsider, she takes the reckless path of answering "Unpleasant" letters herself, though forging Mrs. Bird's signature.  Not only does she reply privately but she sneaks a couple into the magazine, naively hoping Mrs. Bird will never find out.  What really happens is not particularly surprising...though there is an attempt to make Emmy's disciplinary meeting a comedy of errors.

There are several other side stories - Emmy's broken engagement and new relationship with her colleague's brother as well as her relationship with her roommate who strongly advises Emmy against answering these letters.  Emmy's bad judgment doesn't stop her from lecturing her roommate's fiancé about the unnecessary risks she thinks he's taking as a firefighter.  At least his risks save people from burning buildings!

All in all I wouldn't really recommend this one.

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